Do academies raise standards? The “ideology” of rushed, forced academisation without consultation (Updates)
Update: 27 October 2016
Welcome news: “Government formally drops academies legislation” (BBC):
Updates: June – September 2016
Update: 18 May 2016
Update: 6 May 2016
Update: 21 April 2016
Update: 4 April 2016
Update: 15/16 March 2016
See below for our concerns on forced academisation.
Update: 7 December 2015
Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:
“While we remain sceptical about the Government’s policy on ‘coasting’ schools, we note the interesting U-turn by the Government on academies. Extending the powers on ‘coasting’ schools to cover academies seems to be recognition by ministers that, while there are many excellent academies, there is no evidence that academies are more likely to provide higher standards than other schools.
“Perhaps the Department for Education will now stop promoting academies as some sort of panacea that can magically transform education.”
21 October 2015:
Consultation on not consulting!
The DfE has today launched a consultation on the proposed definition of “coasting” schools.
“Tough new powers” in The Education and Adoption Bill, currently passing through Parliament, remove the requirement to consult with parents on whether a school should convert to an academy.
The department’s press release uses the opportunity to attack “opponents” of academisation for having “ideological objections”.
Do let us know your views below…
Update: 30 June 2015
Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson commented:
“It is wrong to accuse schools and their dedicated staff of being ‘complacent’ or ‘coasting’.
“We could see the ridiculous and confusing situation of schools being labelled both ‘good’ and ‘coasting’, questioning the credibility and purpose of Ofsted inspections! ”
“Instead of labelling schools, the Education Secretary should be talking about providing support for schools to meet the challenges that they face…
“The Government’s targets of 60% of secondary pupils to achieve five good GCSEs and 85% of primary pupils to achieve the expected standard in their national curriculum tests are artificial and inappropriate and do nothing to tackle the issue of teaching to the test.
“The Education Secretary and her colleagues have an ideological academy fixation.
“There is no evidence that academies are more likely to provide higher standards than other schools and many could also be labelled as ‘coasting’.”
3 June 2015:
The Education and Adoption Bill, published today, will set out measures for every school in England rated inadequate by Ofsted (possibly up to 1,000 over five years) to become an academy, and will remove the requirement for academy sponsors to consult locally on whether they should take over schools.
“While we welcome the Government’s aspirations for world-class education, it seems that it is more interested in headlines and structures than in the people needed to deliver education and childcare and the funding that they require to do that.
“There is no evidence that academies are more likely to provide higher standards than other schools.
“Chopping and changing headteachers will not provide the stability and long-term vision that schools need.”
Academies have been promoted by both the previous and current governments as some sort of panacea that can magically transform education. However, changing the way schools are organised and governed is not a guarantee of success or better education.
The key to the success of a school is the quality of leadership, along with investment and a positive ethos and relationship with local communities.
While there are many excellent academies, a rushed, forced academisation programme can have a negative impact.
Voice expressed its concerns about the “breakneck speed” with which the Coalition Government rushed ahead in allowing more schools to become academies, calling for a ‘less haste, more speed’ approach and urging it to implement its programme within a practical and fair timescale, allowing a proper period of consultation with staff, parents and local communities before schools decided to change their status: “There must be sufficient time for consultation”.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan,however, has said that the new Bill will “sweep away the bureaucratic and legal loopholes previously exploited by those who put ideological objections above the best interests of children.”
This is classic political rhetoric – claiming that the views of others are “ideology” while, by implication, yours are not – and all too similar to the Govean tactic of representing democratic debate and consultation as the “bureaucratic” tactics of ‘the enemy’.
The Commons Education Select Committee found that there was no clear evidence to show that “academies raise standards overall”, calling for more evidence on their impact and challenging the Coalition Government to:
“be less defensive and more open about its implementation of the academies programme, producing a range of clearer and deeper information about the performance of academy schools, chains and sponsors. It should also review the lessons of the rapid conversion of secondary schools to inform any future expansion.”
Chair Graham Stuart said that:
“It’s still too early to know how much the academies programme has helped raise standards…. Current evidence does not prove that academies raise standards overall or for disadvantaged children.”