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Why do people not like Harris Academies?(26 Posts)
Just that really... the general sentiment tends to be negative. For people who don't like Harris Academies, why is that? Does anyone have a positive experience of a Harris Academy?
To give some context we're considering moving to the Beckenham area where there seems to be a Harris Academy on every second corner!
My perception is that they're pretty brutal places to work and have a high staff turnover. I could be wrong.
They tend to pop up and take over deprived areas although some are selective. They have popped up around Tottenham and generally have a bad rep for being very strict and extremely stem focused. The ones around here call their primaries preps and have longer days and 2 week half terms- very much like the privates. Some people love them though.
I know teachers who worked in them. And left. Very unrealistic demand on staff.
I live near ish Beckenham. The Harris pupils are the worst behaved children I see going to and from school. They are rude, loud, the language they use is appalling. They have to have staff stationed at bus stops for crowd control. The staff turnover is apparently high. One of the primary ones I believe had their SAT results discounted because they 'helped' the children to much. The two girls ones (Peckham/Dulwich and Bromley) seem to have a better reputation. There is a new non Harris that has recently opened up near Beckenham. Oversubscribed apparently. Several children that live in the Penge area ended up being sent/offered a school in Croydon (ie out of bourough) because there simply isn't a non Harris secondary in the area for them. Oh and there is (allegedly) a lot of off-rolling in the GCSE years.
I went to Harris academy east dulwich. It wasn’t too unpleasant, for a girls school filled with loud and deprived teens, it was a pretty ok experience. They really improved the image of the school internally so it felt like a place of business rather than a school battleground in Peckham. Although we did have gangs from other areas threaten to come to the school several times so they’d invite the police and close the school early.
And the toilets were fucking rank
They treat staff like crap and there are a lot of dodgy things that go on. So the turnover is very high.
I looked at a couple (not in Beckenham) when my DC was applying last year. They had some great facilities but to me felt rather joyless and more like a corporate machine than a school. Having a DC with SEN I worried about the squeezing out rumours. But the results are good and one of the ones near me is consistently oversubscribed - it was the top choice for lots of DC's friends.
They take over "rebrokered" schools where the original trust had either gone tits up or the LA has been given a directive academy order due to poor educational results. They have a history of turning them round and making them very good and into a standard Harris model, but the staff often find the change of culture and regime very difficult. They also are quite aggressive with their negotiation tactics and don't waste money if they can help it (on the schools at least).
They've got a good reputation in beckenham as far as I'm aware. There are a lot of entrenched staff who don't like change. Doesn't mean the business model is wrong, and academies are a business.
Many aren't supportive of children with SEN which eats too much into their budgets and who won't necessarily achieve as much as other children academically.
Beckenham Harris has just had a requires improvement ofsted outcome. Not great.
I wonder if the Harris Academy Trust is the London (area) version of the Norths Outwood Trust?
If so, they are probably a bit like marmite. The parents I know are generally very happy with the schools, I on the other hand couldn't leave fast enough on the open evening.
Harris sound a bit like Outwood in that in some areas your choice is almost none existent if you wish to avoid one of their schools.
Harris Beckenham got outstanding ofsted in 2017. That was all I could see on the Ofsted website.
The Harris schools have a reputation for being very harsh for staff, for being strict and a bit of a model of education. If your child fits well into that model I think they can be good schools. They do have a reputation for playing the stats by not letting kids sit exams, and if you look at the number of exams sit on average by prior attainment it is low for Harris Bromley but high for Harris Beckenham.
Beckenham also has the Langley schools and Eden Park High, so it is Harris county but for girls in particular, there is some choice.
A Harris academy was forced on a local primary to me against most parents' wishes. They were found to be cheating on SATS in 2017. They have one parent governor and a number of sponsor governors - the others are staff of the school or of the organisation. In other words, only one governor isn't either employed by or accountable to Harris.
Apologies - Harris Orpington got RI.
Have a look at the inspection report here.
They found all sorts of shenanigans going on - I was really quite impressed with the level of depth and analysis they went into.
I am not sure I am a great fan of the Harris model (or rather I am not, although it is more based on hearsay than direct experience), but I have to say, they have transformed what is now Harris Beckenham. I believe a lot of parents are very happy with it. Nobody would have chosen to send their child there 10-15 years ago. Now it is a split choice for many between Harris Beckenham and Eden Park in my local primary, with some opting for Langley girls/boys, Kingsdale and the grammars.
I looked at harris for my daughter. On face value we liked the one we saw but then a n interim ofsted came out. 3 heads in 3 years. The other new one opening near us was having a head that's had only be in previous post around 4 years (and he came
Into that school in second year of operation) so again I don't think the local one was a one off. I suspect they ship them in and out as the school requirements change over time (much as a business would I guess)
Does anyone know the new Harris Academy in Wimbledon? Started a couple of years ago? I’d heard Harris’s generally focused on results over extra-curricular but wondered if it was different if they start a school from scratch? Anyone got good or bad experiences?
My children went to one and whilst they did well academically the interaction with parents was poor. I know the staff were treated badly. I am not a fan
Our child is at Harris Beckenham and we are very unhappy at the moment. Our child has been experiencing Escalating bullying since the first few days. The school are not doing enough to counter.
The reports that just came out were basic to say the least. Very short comments many just one sentence generic fit any child reports. We feel that they seem to be firefighting bad behaviour. When I say bad I mean serious physical attacks by pupils on each other swearing and verbal abuse. We feel that this isn’t the school we were sold on the open evening at all. Seriously thinking moving our child.
So in short, Harris academy Orpington has been entering native English speaking kids into a GCSE English exam aimed at those who speak English is a foreign language. I know this link from the Daily Fail, but I heard the same story from the head teacher or another local school some while before this was published. He told me that he knew from some of the published data but that you would have to be in the know to realise. I don't know anything about Harris Beckenham.
This thread is very illuminating. I've pretty much decided against sending my kids to a Harris school now. I've also been speaking to a teacher friend who has just opted to send their kids to Lambeth Academy (graded requires improvement) above Harris Battersea (graded outstanding) as they consider it a much better option. It really does highlight the need to look way beyond the Ofsted grading but as someone currently extremely happy with a 'requires improvement' primary I already know this. Ofsted really does need to change/ up its game.
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