In the UK, there has been an irresistible rise in the Academy system in the last decade.
The initial idea behind Academies under the previous Labour Government was to re- channel resources to those schools, mostly in deprived areas, which had proved particularly resistant to changes and improvements in performance.
Under the current Tory government the programme was greatly escalated and added to with a ‘Free School’ programme. The political intention of the Tory Academy system was to destroy the control of the Local Education Authorities, which the Tories saw as the dead hand of control which was holding schools back. In some instances, the performance of schools was held back by poor local authorities, but this was in the exceptional case, for the most part, local authorities provided useful support and resources to stabilise and challenge schools.
Unfortunately, the current free for all of Academies and Free Schools has destroyed the local accountability of schools, and has distorted the provision of places and resources. The Academy chains (which now appear like disparate and particularly badly performing LAs for the most part) have shown themselves profligate in the use of resources and lacking in the depth of experience required to provide a seamless and joined up service to meet the needs of all their students. Unfortunately they now control once public assets to the tune of many billions of pounds. The monetisation of education, the mantra driving the changes based, in part of failed experiments in the USA with Charter Schools, now puts the education of increasing numbers of children at risk.
This article outlines the scope of the problems and challenges the belief that in some magical way, imposing or creating an Academy will, of itself, improve learning outcomes…