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Please can someone explain Academy schools to me?(10 Posts)
What is an academy? Why were they set up? How do they operate and what differentiates them from a regular school?
I wasn't in the country when they were being set up and now feel like I have a big gap in my knowledge.
to all the brilliant teachers out there
And from a staffing point of view, is it different working for an academy? Are there different expectations of you?
Schools used to be run by Local Education Authorities (LEA) under local government. Academies were brought in initially to improve schools which were seen to be failing. Then, schools could choose to convert. Some did as it was viewed as a means to gain autonomy.
Academies are outside LEA control. They are funded directly by a part of the DfE. There was some hope that lots of businesses would get involved in running schools, but that didn't take off except in some cases. There are Multi Academy Trusts which run large numbers of schools e.g. Harris. Some schools are standalone academies.
Some people see them as controversial as assets belonging to the LEA, and by extension, to the state and UK citizens were transferred to academies e.g. school playing fields. Academies do not have to have the same pay and conditions as maintained (LEA) schools, although many do.
Academies do not need to comply with the National Curriculum and they can employ whoever they like as teachers.
Lots of academy chains are run by people with questionable morals. They let schools fall into disrepair while creaming off the money for themselves.
For example. schoolsweek.co.uk/bright-tribe-and-alat-could-face-1-8m-bill-for-improper-use-of-historic-grants/
Different chains set different expectations of both staff and pupils. Anyone can be a teacher and they don’t have to follow the national curriculum. They are seen by some and a privatisation of education.
Bright Tribe took on a school near me and totally ruined a school in Whitehaven in Cumbria. Took millions of £s to improve them and did nothing but push papers and give contracts to their subsidiary companies who did shoddy work. They're being chased to give the money back, unlikely that they will. They are a disgrace.
Some academies leaders have been paying themselves high salaries which given school budgets is poor. Spend more on advertising and branding.
One particular academy chain near me has a rep for a high staff turnover. I worked for an academy that was within a MAT as a deputy head and at SLT meetings It was the survival of the fittest. So pleased I left.
Some chains have collapsed entirely
There was a very good documentary about a MAT last year can't remember what it was called. It didn't show academies in the best light. They don't have to follow the burgundy book so I've always been a bit wary. I believe the resources are much better though. Inadequate schools are usually turned into academies unless they can turn themselves around quickly
Some are good and in run by people who are education for the right reasons. They've been self-organised among groups of schools and are led by people who know what they're doing and use the freedoms positively.
Some are vanity projects or gravy trains. Layer of corporate roles on 6 figure salaries that way exceed similar roles that used to be done in local authorities for larger numbers of schools. Their business model relies on high churn of teachers, because young teachers are cheaper and more compliant.
The big chains have massively disproportionate influence over government policy. They tend to comprise the best-funded, biggest schools and so the DfE puts out 'guidance' that is completely unworkable in smaller rural schools.
Despite the message of autonomy, the political agenda is the centralisation of power and the dismantling of local democracy.
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