Archive | Academies RSS feed for this section

Drive to alter school structure seen as key to raising standards

5 Jan

I           Plans to convert every state school into an academy

Prime Minister David Cameron said that by the end of this parliament – i.e. 2020 – he intended to convert all secondary schools into academies.  The Times Educational Supplement (TES), in its first issue of 2016, wrote that ministers were considering publishing a White Paper to formalise plans to convert every state school into an academy.   Of the 23,500 (circa) institutions in the country, there are now over over 4,500 academies – 2,075 secondary (comprising 61.4% of all secondary schools) and 2,440 primary 14.6% of all primary schools).

Also, in a speech he made in March 2015, the Prime Minister pledged that he would open 500 new free schools in the following five years.   He averred that state-funded, start-up schools were “raising standards and restoring discipline”. Free schools can be established by academy sponsors, teachers and groups of parents. They operate outside local authority control. Continue reading

The Education and Adoption Bill

5 Jan

The Education and Adoption Bill aims to empower the Secretary of State for Education to intervene and convert schools that are not providing suitable education into academies. She will also be authorised to make joint arrangements for carrying out local authority adoption functions in England.

So what are the categories of schools judged to be unsatisfactory which will come under the Secretary of State’s scrutiny? Continue reading

Is academisation the magic bullet to school improvement ?

25 Aug

I           Government’s aim to convert stagnant schools into academies

The government is convinced that converting failing schools to academies is the panacea to education’s maladies.  Is it?

Mrs Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State, announced that where Ofsted deems a school to be inadequate, requiring improving or coasting/stagnating, it will be converted into an academy and made over to a successful chain such as ARK (Absolutely Return for Kids) or Harris.  The new cadre of school commissioners will be given powers to intervene on behalf of her.   Commissioners will be able to bring in new leadership if required.  However, the government said that schools in trouble will be given time to improve.

In a speech marking the end of the first 100 days in power following the May 2015 elections, the Prime Minister signalled he would give all schools the chance to become academies as part of a Conservative drive to “extend opportunity to all”.  And then he added: “I want every school in the country to have the opportunity to become an academy and to benefit from the freedoms this brings. So we will make it a priority to recruit more academy sponsors and support more great headteachers in coming together in academy chains.” Continue reading

The Battle of Bohunt: a clash of Chinese and Anglo-Saxon cultures

25 Aug

A unique experiment was conducted at Bohunt School in Liphook, Hampsire, in the Summer Term 2015 when five teachers from China were transplanted into Bohunt School to teach 50 year 9 (13- and 14-year-olds) students for a period of four weeks. The rest of the year 9 students continued to receive the curriculum diet from their usual teachers in accordance with the national curriculum and pedagogical methods in this country.  (Ofsted described Bohunt as outstanding.)

At the end of the process, both groups were tested by the Institute of London University College London to see which set of students performed better in mathematics, science and Mandarin.  (At the time of writing, I had viewed only one of the four episodes so am unsure about what the outcome was.  However, there was much that I learnt from the experience of watching the first instalment.)

The five visiting teachers were filmed by the BBC working in conjunction with the Open University (OU) while teaching the Chinese way to see how well English children learnt through those methods.  The first instalment of the series, Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, was, in a number of ways, a revelation and in other ways unsurprising.  Continue reading

Academies – how well are they doing?

3 Jan

In the week of 24 October 2014, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) released figures which showed that pupils in sponsored academies in 2013 were performing marginally better in the progress they made from KS2 and KS4 and attaining five A*-C GCSEs (and equivalent qualifications, including English and Maths) than maintained schools.

The report noted that there was no significant difference in GCSE attainment between converter academies and non-academy schools after two years. The difference reduced between sponsored academies and non-academies when non-GCSE equivalents were taken out of the measurements. NFER observed that the differences could be because sponsored academy schools were either entering more candidates into BTECs or other similar, non-GCSE, qualifications or were entering the same number of pupils for these qualifications as non-academy schools, and getting better results.

Overall, the report concluded that converting to academy status made no significant difference to pupil attainment.  Academy pupils were performing at a similar level to their non-academy peers.

This will not come as a surprise to many but has (probably) not been welcome news to Ministers and Mr Michael Gove, former Secretary of State for Education and current Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury.

Academies – Where and What Next?

2 Jan

I           The general picture

Schools continue to apply to become academies.  The Department for Education provides useful guidance on how this can be achieved.  However, the pace of conversion appears to be slackening.   In October 2013, 36 applications were in the pipeline.  Over that month, 22 were approved and 35 new academies opened.   In the country as a whole, there are now 2,481 sponsored and converter academies from a total of 3,254 applications received.   At the time of writing, 441 applications for academy status have been approved but the schools still need to convert.

The thrust for conversion continues to be dominated by the secondary schools, which, because of their larger sizes, have a greater capacity to manage their financial and business affairs than smaller primary schools.  However, fewer than one in eight schools in the country is now an academy. Continue reading