The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Who Wants To Be An Academyanaire?

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 26, 2010 @ 15:44

There is a cartoon character that looks a bit like Michael Gove. But I can't think of his name...

I’ve moaned in the past about the useless concepts of academies and free schools.

And with today’s announcement that Michael Gove wants all schools to be one or the other (no idea what the difference is though), I expect I’m gonna have a lot more moaning to do.

Academy schools are the brainchild of New Labour. The concept: a classic public-private partnership, where the private sector gets a lot of influence for only a little capital. Throw ooodles of government cash at it, maybe with a brand new building, and some new swanky titles like Executive Headteacher, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Some academies have worked. Some haven’t. That disparity suggests there’s nothing magical going on here. We’re merely polluting the educational pathway with a deluge of modern managerialism, and worse, combining it with the opportunity for the private sector to stick their oar in where it’s not wanted.

Labour spent 13 years obsessing over what type of school a community should have. The Lib-Con coalition now looks set to do exactly the same.

It is a mistake.

Disconnecting schools from local authority control means that local authorities are going to be doing even less. As if councils could be more emasculated, more impotent, bang will go another reason for their increasingly pointless existence.

But our new “free” schools will not exist in glorious isolation. No sir. They will, of course, be accountable for their standards directly to the Secretary of State. In Whitehall.

This is not a power devolution exercise. Just as Lord Adonis was intimately involved with the school academy programme, so too will Michael Gove. These schools may be free on a day-to-day basis, but overall they will have to respond to the direction of central government. And does central government really know what is appropriate for a local community?

I have no principled objection to giving schools more freedom. I have seen the bureaucracy they exist under first hand. But the answer is not to open up a system, removing all strategic planning from the local people who know best what’s appropriate for their area, and putting it all either in the hands of a clique of middle-class parents with too much time on their hands, a strange collection of “social enterprises” (read: The Vardy Foundation) or civil servants in Whitehall who will no doubt have their own pet schools to look after.

Most ordinary parents couldn’t care less whether their school is free to pursue its own curriculum and manage its own budgets, or has every second of its existence regulated down to the last turkey twizzler. They just want to know that the school has a strong ethos, is a safe environment and is going to deliver rigorous, excellent teaching and learning.

Structures make at best 20% of that. And that’s me being generous.

Teachers, leaders… and most of all, the headteacher, provide the rest.

Here’s to freedom.


2 Responses to “Who Wants To Be An Academyanaire?”

  1. Ajax Harington said

    Gove should read more Jonathan Swift…

  2. maxy said

    I couldn’t agree more. Succint and to the point. Let us have more discussion like this instead of the right wing drivel which is pedalled in the media about giving more freedoms to schools and parents. WHat about the potential for closet paedophiles to take up the government offer. Where is the protection for children there? Paul Vincent the son of Vince Cable would know this better than anyone having worked at the school in Hampton Court which was sold to a private school for a fraction of the real cost thus depriving the taxpayers of Richmond

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