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Will more academy schools improve education?

09:17 UK time, Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Education Secretary Michael Gove is writing to all primary and secondary schools in England inviting them to become academies. Can the proposals work?

Schools which are assessed as outstanding will be able to quickly switch to academy status.

It could lead to thousands of schools leaving local authority control which, the NASUWT teachers' union claims will "disenfranchise democratically-elected local councils".

Education Secretary Michael Gove says he wants to bring back "radicalism" and give schools more freedom.

What impact will leaving local authority control have? Are you a teacher, a parent or a student? How will the proposals affect you?

Q&A: Academies and free schools
This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I work for a local authority and Grant Maintained schools were tried some years ago which meant they opted out of Authority Control just like the Academies but under a different name of course. Some went bankrupt and had to opt back in - it cost shed loads of money to set up and shed loads to bring them back in. There are no new ideas just new names for old ideas. Lots of lovely money for consultants so that's ok isn't it!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    It should concentrate resources on teaching and reduce administration. Got to be an improvement on the disaster created by Nu Labour.

  • Comment number 3.

    Labour told us all the schools and pupils are technically perfect, all scoring 100% all the time. How can it get better?

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Locally we already have a situation where two local state Comprehensive schools (one located in a very expensive residential area the other a Roman Catholic Faith School) effectively practice a policy of excluding students with special needs while engaging in postcode selection when it suits them. But are quite happy to bus in students from other areas when it results in excluding those locally who might not quite be as gifted academically.

    This means the other local comprehensives have a far higher percentage of students who need more support.

    Allowing such schools (both would qualify for fast track)to become academies would simply be giving official condonement to their unofficial exclusion policy.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't like the exercise of rebranding schools as academies - it smacks of spin & I'd like the new government to move away from such hollow gestures.

    Improving schools is fine idea though, perhaps its time to pause and take stock of the education system and really think about what we want to be teaching our children now, with a view to the skills society will need in the future.

    The only slight worry i have is that this legislation will make it easier for individuals or corporations with a specific agenda to set up schools for the indoctrination of the next generation, but that may just be my natural paranoia.

  • Comment number 7.

    If schools are not controlled by local councils how are the Government going to set or indeed monitor standards and ensure they meet the criteria, whatever that will be.

    It looks like despite all the assurances elitism will prevail so what happens to the schools which are not outstanding. Will they and their pupils be dumped on the back burner and forgotten.

    Will these Academies be directly funded by the Government if they leave Local Authority control. An expensive exercise if it all goes pear shaped. Never mind the British taxayer bailed out the banks so why not schools.

  • Comment number 8.

    According to my wife who works in education, most of the Academies are either in trouble or failing.
    Seems strange that they are being held up as the way forward.

  • Comment number 9.

    For all of the Tories' talk about "we're all in this together", a sense of communal enterprise and co-operative effort is the last thing their policies will deliver. Conservative policy has, for years, been designed to progressively dismantle the apparatus and structure of local government, sell off public assets, contract out public services to private companies, and convert citizens into consumers of a corporate service economy.

    I see academy schools as a system that will further exacerbate the gap between high-achieving students from wealthy middle class families and students from less privileged backgrounds. I hope schools across the country reject this idea as socially divisive, expensive and ultimately flawed.

  • Comment number 10.

    If the schools have more say as to how money can best be spent for them I don't see that as a bad thing.

    If virtually all the old grammar and technical schools hadn't been destroyed perhaps this step wouldn't be necessary.

  • Comment number 11.

    Tried before by parties of both persuasions. Remember Grant Maintained Schools.
    Labours academies underachieved. The Tories are fast tracking the best performers.
    Grammar schools are coming.
    Centralised Government control as opposed to Local Govt Control.
    Divide and conquer again.

  • Comment number 12.

    How exactly would privatising education, putting curriculum in "business leaders" hands help our education system? What labour started the conservatives will finish as this is basically one of their policies. I cant believe the british public put up with their education system falling into the hands of business......I despair

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm a teacher and believe giving more control to schools through private companies is a good idea. All I hear all the time is schools should all be equal. That is not only unrealistic but also the Labour view that all children have to become the lowest common denominator to make all children not feel left out is just disgraceful. There is nothing wrong with competition. There is nothing wrong with parents wanting the best for their children. As a parent I certainly will be helping my child to do his best and get the best education. So what if it makes schools exclusive and leaves other schools with the poorer children. It's then up to the schools with the more difficult children to do a better job. All schools, even private ones have difficult children. We have a local school that has just been given outstanding but it's in one of the most difficult parts of the city. Now it has more parents taking a look at it. You cannot expect all schools to fall behind because it might not be fair on others.

  • Comment number 14.

    10. At 09:59am on 26 May 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:
    If the schools have more say as to how money can best be spent for them I don't see that as a bad thing.

    If the state only gives then 50% of what the local councils budget for, then they get full control of half as much. Which is only going to hurt students in a teacher's power struggle.

    And do you think local councils will demand less council tax when they no longer need to fund these schools?

  • Comment number 15.

    I think that being an academy will be very popular with about half of heads, but it will lead to the stripping out of experienced teachers over the next five or ten years.
    Some heads will simply not want the extra administrative burden of taking over all the functions now carried out by the local authority. Even now, they are not teachers, hardly ever see a classroom, and are little more than accountants and administrators, which surely cannot be where they saw their lives going. To be crushed by more paperwork might not be their idea of paradise.
    But there are some heads who will jump at the chance. The key is the key to the money box, being in charge of the budget. There is already quite a strong trend to replace experienced teachers with NQTs (newly qualified teachers). This move will see the powers of these more rapacious, accountant-like heads, who never really wanted to be educators, extended without limit. They will be free to replace their entire staff with inexperienced twenty-somethings. They are much cheaper, and they are much more easily controlled.
    But there is more to this than meets the eye. In the 1980s, Kenneth Baker and Margaret Thatcher decided to break up comprehensives on purpose. They later admitted this quite freely in published works. They achieved this by letting the money follow the pupil. This was seen as both a vote winner, and a way of creating sink schools, since some schools would inevitably be more popular, some would be less popular, and the less popular would lose pupils, and thus lose money, and thus find it more difficult to maintain buildings, retain the best staff and so forth. This was supposed to discredit the comprehensive system, and it was largely successful.
    Now, these sink schools are all copies of each other. They attract only the pupils who can't get into other schools, mostly. They are in poor areas. Their results are poor almost entirely because their pupils are academically weak, easily distracted, have parents who take no interest, and so forth. The schools are also cash-strapped, have generally poor buildings, find it hard to retain staff, and have to work extraordinarily hard at discipline due to the nature of their pupils and the more inexperienced nature of their teachers - of course, they must save money on staff, and so their staff are less experienced.
    However, the Chicago schools study, the best research we have, showed that only two factors influence pupil achievement. School behaviour and parental involvement. It doesn't even matter if a pupil doesn't get into the school they want. It's only important that the parents tried to make the move.
    So the academy program will almost certainly lead to decreasing results, because more expensive, more experienced staff will be stripped out of the state sector (they will leave education or enter private education - all state sector teachers hate private education but try very hard to get a job in it, at which point it's suddenly wonderful) and levels of behaviour will go down, and so attainment levels will fall.
    Parental involvement, we can do little about, but behaviour is something we can. Experienced staff can certainly be more flexible and resourceful in their methods of teaching, but their real contribution is behaviour management, injecting more into education than GCSEs, informing children by example of how to live, how to be. It's a thing that all state schools teach whether they try to or not. But who do we want them to learn from? Who sets the examples?
    Pupils are children. Children are biologically programmed to learn best, to relate best, with older adults. What are grannies for in the first place? They exist only to teach the young. Children cannot relate so well to adults in their younger decades, and often see them as mere targets for aggression, as competition in their own world, and certainly not as people they can respect and look up to. It is this crucial aspect of education that will be lost when experienced, older teachers get stripped out. And heads will become, even more than now, an obstacle, rather than a help, to education.

  • Comment number 16.

    @Amanda post 13 - i am not even sure you're a teacher if you look forward to privatisation. Just have a look at american schools where privatisation comes at a price!

    There are some extreme examples over there including a boy who was suspended from attending school because he wore a t-shirt bearing the name of a rival soda drinks firm that conflicted with the drinks sponsor of the school. If you truly look forward to a world like that then i suggest you are not a teacher since this ideaology would conflict with the very principle of education through well placed indoctrination.

  • Comment number 17.

    NO! it wont work if you allow parents to set up their own schools as you will be in danger of spreading education money to thinly on the ground and children will suffer.Who will pay for the new buildings and more to the point where will you built them as in a lot of areas land is in short supply for building purposes.Then you have that thorny issue, just who will be allowed to set up their own school and for what purpose is it meant for to educate child in mainstream or is it to set up a regious group at the taxpayers expense,you have a greater chance of really breaking this country if you do, a typical ill thought out plan by the elite as usual.

  • Comment number 18.

    What will happen is all the opt-out academies will cherry pick their students and those they don't want will be left in state schools. This will then enable to the government to say their plan worked because all the acadamies are doing well and the state schools are failing.

    Seems to me like sacrificing the education of children for spin.

  • Comment number 19.

    Academy school? A rose by any other name will smell as sweet.

  • Comment number 20.

    This move will create more jobs, although not for the kids at the schools, but for signwriters, logo designers and suppliers of headed paper.

    For a Government who claim to be cracking down on spending this appears to be the second ides to waste more money already.

  • Comment number 21.

    Academies leverage the powers of good heads to help schools and bad heads to destroy them. At the moment, when a school is going to become an academy, teachers often desert it like rats from a sinking ship for over a year before it's due to happen. This is because pay and conditions agreements, normally agreed nationally under a set of agreements which took years to thrash out, get instantly ripped up. Heads can adjust pay to whatever they like, demand extra work for no pay, decide to have lunch in half an hour, decide that staff always have to cover for absences, the list is endless. In other words, you enter an academy, suddenly you're utterly at the mercy of the head, a person who hasn't taught in years and has no idea what you're going through. The government clearly assumes all heads are wonderful geniuses of great compassion and understanding. Whereas most are, shall we say, not. It's obvious to teachers when a head is good and when they are just in the way, and this probably accounts greatly for the extremely checkered outcome of the academy program so far. Bad head, teachers leave before it's an academy, and it struggles. Good head, they stay, and it thrives.

  • Comment number 22.

    If the teaching union NASUWT think it's a bad idea then you know that the Government is on to a winner here.

  • Comment number 23.

    How can the public trust Michael Gove to look after their children's education when what you have is a person born in Edinburgh,raised in Aberdeen, who clearly has now developed an accent to be seen as one of the "Cameron/Osborne" toffs. What a totally false individual person who also doesn't have a clue about Education. He is typical of the vast majority of the Ministers that Cameron has appointed, who talk as if they really understand and care about the issues that concern the public, but in reality they don't have any real commitment to the help the lower paid/under privileged people of the UK.
    Rgds, Gordon Hutchison

  • Comment number 24.

    It looks like schools with bright pupils, good teachers and money in richer areas will now all become FREE academies, i.e. academies that are not saddled with a 'sponsor' to tell them what to do. But schools with stupid pupils, teachers who would rather teach elsewhere, and which are cash-strapped, will all be HARNESSED academies, i.e. not free, but saddled with the extra burden of a sponsor. As the search for sponsors wasn't successful enough, at first, and the search was widened, this sponsor can almost anyone or anything. A supermarket, a religious fanatic group, a single individual, a ball-bearing factory. I'm not it's very honest to use the very same word, academy, to describe such diametrically opposite institutions.

  • Comment number 25.

    Just teach the basics properly and all else will follow. Get some discipline back and let the teachers run the schools. Simples!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    No it won't. In order to improve education it has to be suited to modern life. This is the first point. Secondly it has to be able to reach all - and teach even those that don't have the enthusiasm and or ability. Enthusiasm is more important, as without it nothing will be achieved. We have computers that can be used to teach all, thus cutting down on classroom time and the possibility of class room disruption - learning labs can allow children to progress at their own speed. Children of no ability will just give up, rather than disrupting those with enthusiasm and drive and ability (pardon the extra and). Why don't we set schools up with this technology.

  • Comment number 27.

    12. At 10:00am on 26 May 2010, Matt wrote:

    How exactly would privatising education, putting curriculum in "business leaders" hands help our education system?"

    The way you say it, you'd never believe that private schools consistently get better results than state schools - even though they have no need to follow the national curriculum.

    The downside to private schools is the cost, NOT the quality of education.

    In any case, as I understand it, the 'academies' are not about privatisation, but about giving control to the school, rather than the LEA. That might involve private company involvement, but then so does the state school system nowadays.

    Personally, I can see both good and bad aspects to this.. I'm really not sure how it will work out (I left my crystal ball at home) - but I do believe that for changes like this to have a realistic chance, they have to be entered into whole-heartedly rather than reluctantly, so even though it didn't always work well under Labour (who were always half-hearted about it), it could work if it was done properly.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is just the coalition government speeding up what Labour started, the privatisation of the education system. This big focus on taking control of public services away from central and local government is just going to lead to greater inequality in services.

  • Comment number 29.

    There will be a big saving if they manage to do away with public education.

    Shame for the poor children who won't get educated though.

  • Comment number 30.

    I din't know much about this as I live in Scotland, and our education system is different.

    But why do Scottish schools not consider these proposals?

    are they more efficient?

    Do they provide a better education, for all?

    Are they more cost effective?

  • Comment number 31.

    Its fine to give state schools the freedom to ignore local councils. But where does that leave non-selective private schools which do not receive a single penny of public money?

  • Comment number 32.

    how can we improve education for children?

    1. By having parents capable of parenting.

    Tinkering with the education system will do little or nothing, never has, never will.
    It serves only those who legislate, not the children
    Certainly we will get a new bunch of graphs, figures, percentages etc etc ad infinitum
    Emphasis misplaced. Millions and millions of taxpayers money spent in the wrong area.
    Oh look, the horse has bolted... I know, lets shut the gate!

    PS: While we have schools filling children's heads with imaginary friends, telling them that gods exist, we are not exactly going to propagate a sane and balanced society.

  • Comment number 33.

    No. I just wish they would leave Schools to get on with educating the Children, rather than continually moving the goalposts, and introduce new iniatives. The Politicans should just leave the schools alone for a few years.

  • Comment number 34.

    At a political level, I see a problem with Harnessed Academies, the ones with 'sponsors' who own the buildings and direct the school. Is it really right to hand over taxpayer assets worth tens of millions of pounds, and the direction of our children's lives, to private institutions, for 125 years, for the price of adding one new building to a school? And even that requirement was dropped by Labour. And then we, as taxpayers, go on paying for the school to run. So what exactly was the point?

    Ah yes, the political point of harnessed academies. They do have an excellent political value if you're a politician. A harnessed academy is a former sink school. You've been blamed for sink schools ever since they were created (by making the money follow the pupil). They are a pain. But suppose you could off-load the ownership and direction of these schools to someone else, someone non-governmental, someone . . . private! Yes! You're a genius. Now no one will blame you for those crappy, spitting, smoking, swearing kids. No longer will the newspapers mention your name in the same sentence as 'failing schools'. For lo, they are someone else's baby. And if they don't work, who gives a monkeys?

    Well, that was Labour's great wizard wheeze. Now the Tories have decided to use the same word to create entirely different schools, Free Academies.

  • Comment number 35.

    Obviously I support a rounded education, and a coverage of the arts and music etc are essential in complementing a persons education. However, I also know our focus should be on mathematics, physics and other hardcore academic subjects, as well as practical eduction in useful trades. If Academies can help to achieve this aim by being more empowered to meet their own specific needs then thats a good thing. We can overtake Germany as the largerst EU economy if we alter our academic mentality to what it was 40 years ago. ie, lets not be scared of encouraging innovation and hard subjects. Look at our contributions in these areas nationally. We have the people, now we need a return to excellence in our education system instead of the tepid, one-size-fits-all, unambitous Labour education policy. Academies could be the vehicle to achieve this... but I won't hold my breath.

  • Comment number 36.

    It is disgraceful that the tories want to effectively privatise the schools. The people who will be running these schools will only be interested in profits for the sarreholders and nothing else

    Schools sole purpose should be to teach children not make profit for the shareholder elite.

    As the schools will be out of government control what is to stop these schools being turned into grammar schools and private schools by introducing entrance exams and/or charging parents/guardians fees to send their children to these schools.

  • Comment number 37.

    Where will this new influx of suddenly very interested parents come from? Engaging parents in playing an active role in the wellbeing of their children's school is not an easy task. Schools often struggle to attract Governors and always run the risk of attracting parents who only have the interests of their own child/children at heart...not the long term good of the school.
    Education is at the very heart of our society and needs to be run fairly, providing high quality equal opportunities for all children. Surely there also needs to be some overall plan for balanced and dynamic curricula accommodating achievement at all levels. By opting out of a nationally overseen strategy in favour of single independently run business funded Academies we run the severe risk of emulating the American model. Children might not be furnished with a broad based education free from too much influence from single interest groups, businesses, religions or specific beliefs...think how evolutionary theory has been almost eradicated in some American institutions. Whilst many will focus on the perceived failings of the previous administrations education policies and potential employers will have experienced interviewees lacking in the basic skills, we must accept that whatever opportunities are provided by teachers and schools, some will always fall through the net. Some sadly do not want to learn, some have never been encouraged to learn, some are never taught the value of a good education, some do not get basic parental support and all too many are trapped by the opportunity for future social and economic mobility...simply because of where they live!
    Whilst some affluent areas of the county, populated by well educated, employed and motivated parents will certainly take up the coalition governments offer to start 'free schools', and some 'outstanding' schools will be fast tracked to Academy status. As the best teachers are cherry picked on the promise of higher salaries/better conditions/less administration and money is available to make these flagship institutions work...where does that leave the vast majority?

  • Comment number 38.

    Sounds great to the uninformed...more autonomy etc. In practical terms, Local Authorities are usually far more help than hindrance. Most of the waste and interference comes from central government and their know-it-all quangos. I might add that my wife is the head of a major department at an 'outstanding' comprehensive.; one that would be offered the choice of going down the Academy route. She is decidedly lukewarm on the whole idea. I too was a HoD at a successful comprehensive before I quit teaching in disgust, when Labour simply carried on with Thatcherite policies.
    This is just rebranding and tinkering at the edges to no discernible effect.

    Ed Balls was useless in office, but he was dead right in his comments on this...costly and divisive. It's the same argument as going private vs NHS. Going private only works as long as the majority stick with the NHS, allowing you to queue-jump. If everyone went private, where would all the extra staff and facilities come from without pouring a lot more money into the system?
    Same with schools (where no more money is going to be forthcoming.) If all schools end up as academies, you're pretty much back where you started....and don't get me started on the crackpot idea of parents starting their own schools.

    What we need is a properly-funded and thought-out state education system, with a properly though-out induction to higher education or industry. What we don't need is yet more gimmicks.

  • Comment number 39.

    While I can understand the savings to be made by allowing schools independence from state interference and local authority budgetary controls, I fail to see how putting our schools in the hands of "for profit" business can solve our education problems.

    It's obvious that business would cherry-pick establishments with a majority of pupils from the most financially secure and gifted backgrounds - but who will police their effectiveness and value for money? Conversely, what will happen to pupils of those inner-city schools who fall by the wayside in attracting financial backing, high quality teaching staff and essential teaching equipment?

    Is this coalition government not in danger of continuing Labour's doctrine of "that'll do" by allowing the under-achievers to muddle through early education using the lowest common denominator factor - thus ensuring that they enter the jobs market at 15 still unable to read, write or do simple mental arithmetic?

    We've heard a lot from Michael Gove about the upper end of our education system, but very little about how our less gifted children will be taught self-control, motivated, equipped and educated to meet more than the basic qualifications required for responsible adulthood. Academies seem likely to drive an even bigger wedge between the two stratums of endeavour, personal pride and achievement.

  • Comment number 40.

    A name change and administration change will do no good, you can polish a turd but it's still a turd.

  • Comment number 41.

    "23. At 10:39am on 26 May 2010, Gordon Hutchison wrote:

    How can the public trust Michael Gove to look after their children's education when what you have is a person born in Edinburgh,raised in Aberdeen, who clearly has now developed an accent to be seen as one of the "Cameron/Osborne" toffs. "

    Lost his accent, like Tony Blair, you mean?

  • Comment number 42.

    I would say there are two questions I would like to be answered on this thread:

    1 What is wrong with Local Education Authorities?

    If an area has a number of schoolchildren and therefore a number of schools, then surely reducing administration, supply of education material, supplying 'supply' teachers and dealing with special needs is all dealt with better as a collective.

    One answer is that LEA's have become political footballs. One report several years ago, said that 25% of schoolplaces were empty but that local politicians would not allow school closures in their 'area' for fear of losing votes.

    Also LEA Officers had a tendency to become bureaucratic, e.g. refusing to give schools things they need because that particular budget item has been spent on other schools - but you can have something else that you do not need.

    2 Are acadamies just another name for selection?

    Certain parents, wanting the best for their children, want selection so that their children go to the 'best' school. They do this to get a better education and for the status of going to a 'good' school.

    Certain school heads want the freedom to select, to select the best students certainly, but also to select the best teachers.

    It doesn't matter to me what the answers to these questions are. The one question I will ask is this, no matter which state school a child goes to (acadamy, faith, local comprehensive) DO ALL CHILDREN HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY SPENT ON THEM?

    The one big failure of the old grammer/secondry modern system was that money was taken from secondry moderns and given to grammers, this is unfair and undeocratic, and was the main reason for bringing in comprehensives.

  • Comment number 43.

    I have no idea whether academies will improve state education or not but I know one thing - something has to be tried as state education is in a mess. Personally I'd get rid of the "one size fits all" comprehensive system and the inclusion policy that takes no account of individual student's needs.
    The one thing that does worry me is the fact that schools will be able to set their own curricula. What's to stop a school being run by a religious cult that wants to promote creationism over science?

  • Comment number 44.

    I wonder,

    if I set up a school advertising a victorian syllabus, with guaranteed corporal punishment for all pupils, as well as the possiblility of being suspended in a basket from the ceiling or placed in the stocks,

    I bet the Dail Mail readers would be falling over each other to get their kids into my school...

  • Comment number 45.

    The problem is not that good schools are not good enough. The problem is that there are schools that continuously struggle or fail to provide education on an acceptable level.

    What is most needed is to lift those schools up to a decent standard. And this plan does nothing to achieve that. It will just widen a gap that is already too big.

  • Comment number 46.

    The winners will be those with the sharpest elbows/largest household income (to pay for expensive offical/unofficial catchment areas). the losers will be those who have neither of the above, this will fuel the class segregation of today. Those kids/parents/staff in more challenging schools can just sit back and watch the wall of exclusion from equal access to life opportunities/state monies/talented staff from drain away at a faster pace.

    Hope I am wrong.The Govs lack of insight/ethos on this fills me with despair. Blair too fuelled this process.

  • Comment number 47.

    Same old, same old.

    Tories never change their spots, and never learn. We do not need these pitiful "radical" ideas within an education system that is a mess, a mess because politicians of all colours have been spooning it around forever. They never take out the spoon and taste it, or look at what they are stirring. These incompetents just cannot "cook" for love nor money, and yet, via a botched up coalition, this is what they contrive to do.

    DIY education is okay is it? Then why not sell all the schools and colleges and even universities to highest bidders and let us have our money back. It'll save the most needy a fortune in income and council tax, not to mention wiping out a huge chunk of our deficit.

  • Comment number 48.

    Anything that improves education and the preparation of the next generation for life is great. Freeing schools from political interference would be great. Letting teachers teach would be great.

    Do these proposals do any of the above - I am not convinced.

    1. The cost of transferring every school out of local authority control would be immense.
    2. Effectively it would create several thousand more quangos, answerable to the Secretary Of State.
    3. Communities and Parents would not gain any additional control nor input by right.
    4. Current selection policies so extended would lead to the return of sink schools - acadamies already benefit from excluding less gifted children.
    5. Teachers would gain more say in terms of removal of local political control, but then lose this say again to financial and business considerations.
    6. Making a competative market between schools will mean there are winners - but what if your child is one of the losers; and how many losers will it cost to create a winner?

  • Comment number 49.

    5. At 09:49am on 26 May 2010, steve wrote:
    Locally we already have a situation where two local state Comprehensive schools effectively practice a policy of excluding students with special needs while engaging in postcode selection when it suits them. But are quite happy to bus in students from other areas when it results in excluding those locally who might not quite be as gifted academically.

    This sounds to me like they are operating like a Grammar School.
    I don't think there is anything wrong with bright kids getting more than their fair share of the resources. Samry kids have the potential to earn more and pay more taxes and contribute more to society when they grow up. They should be nurtured; they're what we need to get back on our feet again.

  • Comment number 50.

    The budget for these new academies and the 'Free Schools' Gove wants to set up is to come from the existing education budget, he intends to strip 15% from the School Refurbishment Program budget, which he characterised as 'wasteful spending'. So your local secondary won't get new windows or a new roof, never mind there will be a brand new academy run by some faith group or hedge fund or a 'free school' run by who knows what up the road in a former old peoples home to try and get your child into.
    You can see the strategy ,starve the public sector schools of funds, parents opt for academy status or a 'free school' for their children, because that's where the money's going. Gove announces the success of his policy, parental choice has been widened etc. As these schools are outside the public sector, no Ofsted inspections, no oversight on their education priorities, they report directly to the Education Secretary, so no local accountability.
    What happens to the schools which remain in the public sector, sink status?
    Why is it that these people who have been privately educated(takes 7% of the population) and who intend to send their kids to private schools, feel they have the right to play political games with the state school sector(takes 93% of the population)?
    Cameron's talk of the 'broken society' is shown to be just a political ploy. His education policy will produce a more fragmented social isolated society.

  • Comment number 51.

    23. At 10:39am on 26 May 2010, Gordon Hutchison wrote:
    How can the public trust Michael Gove to look after their children's education when what you have is a person born in Edinburgh,raised in Aberdeen, who clearly has now developed an accent to be seen as one of the "Cameron/Osborne" toffs. What a totally false individual person who also doesn't have a clue about Education. He is typical of the vast majority of the Ministers that Cameron has appointed, who talk as if they really understand and care about the issues that concern the public, but in reality they don't have any real commitment to the help the lower paid/under privileged people of the UK.
    Rgds, Gordon Hutchison

    Might I as what your problem is with anyone born in Edinburgh, or educated in Aberdeen? Perhaps the problem is he is a tory?

    I look forward to England and wales having these Academies by all accounts it is a first step to privatisation. This is one of the major differences between Scotland and England Most of England are happy with the privatised industry as most vote tory while condemming the public sector as can be seen by the many remarks on this site. Where as the Scots have traditionally been more communal and socially aware, the Scots prefer state education. If Mr. Gove was showing his roots as a Scot he would not be pushing academies. While Scottish education is not perfect it does not seem to be in the dissaray that the English and welsh system is in.
    Just as an aside the benefits of privatisation can be clearly seen in the privatised utilities, there excellent service and low charges, how many are British owned again?

  • Comment number 52.

    Oh dear, back to the 90's fiasco of grant maintained schools.

    We have a very good local school, I fear this will do it no favours as so-called 'free schools' drain away the money from the local education budgets!

  • Comment number 53.

    Currently the money allocated by central government to our very successful and over subscribed local secondary school, is given to the LEA to do with how they see fit.

    They decide to spend none of it on our school, but instead have built sixth form centres for schools that are not popular, and now we have a large, new, empty sixth form centre in the town.

    If we went to Academy status, we would get the money direct from government, and finally be able to expand ...... I seem to remember that everyone keeps saying that successful schools are allowed to expand .... Well they cant if the LEA doesnt allow them any of their own money !!

  • Comment number 54.

    A far better use of limited resources would be to take a long hard look at the way in which state-funded schools are run in general and find a mechanism that is both financially robust and puts control of education in the hands of the professionals.

    The things that make a 'good' school start with dynamic strong leadership with headteacher, senior leadership team and governors working together intelligently and with purpose. Then it is the ethos of the whole place that matters, with everyone being committed to an academically-sound and challenging curriculum delivered in a supportive manner to pupils who feel safe and are encouraged to play an active role in their learning.

    One small thing that might help is providing funding to enable schools to hire business managers to take care of the finances, instead of asking headteachers to do so on a day-to-day basis. Teacher are not accountants (excepting those teaching A-level Accountancy!) and have better things to do than keep the books and hunt for extra funding.

    But whatever is proposed as a means to raising standards needs to be for ALL state-funded schools, not just some of them.

  • Comment number 55.

    Am I the only one confused by these proposals? The original idea behind academies was to provide a means for failing schools to change radically so that they had a chance of improving. Results haven't been totally conclusive, but, generally, the change of status seems to have led to improvements. Now we are going to fast track outstanding schools. Are they really going to get that much better if they are already outstanding?

    Schools already have a great deal of local autonomy. I can see that the schools going for academy status would welcome the extra money they would stand to gain by taking even more of the grant away from local authorities. However, if the local authorities have less money, they will be less able to offer help to the majority of schools who are not academies and, almost certainly, need that help.

    There is a strong danger of creating a 2 tier education system where the wealthy academies get the pick of the pupils and the remaining less affluent majority have to get by with less resources and assistance. Sounds like Robin Hood in reverse - robbing from the poor to give to the rich.

  • Comment number 56.

    I din't know much about this as I live in Scotland, and our education system is different.

    But why do Scottish schools not consider these proposals?

    are they more efficient?

    Do they provide a better education, for all?

    Are they more cost effective?

    Might have something to do with the 15% more per student they get out of DOE funds than Their counterparts in England!

    Just a thought

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm a Tory at heart, but this is just plain silliness. What a short sighted and completely wasteful idea.

    Since 2006, school Governing bodies were sold the idea of becoming an Academy because of the £35million complete rebuild! That money will no longer exist in the drive for austerity, and you can bank on the Building Schools for the Future programme being scrapped.

    The idea of recovering 9% of their operating budget won't be enough of an incentive for any responsibly run school to become an academy.

    The more sensible Heads and Governing Bodies of Primary schools won't touch it with a bargepole. So far, academies are doing little better than community schools despite having a £35m rebuild and an increase of 9-10% of operating budget. The perfomance increase of a few percent here or there, isn't worth the money that has been spent on these education 'experiments'.

    I hope that the rest of the Coalition plans will not be as half-baked as this one.

    (Here's one. An Acadamy burns down. Is the Local Education Authority supposed to pay for it to be rebuilt? Who pays for its temporary re-housement? Ah yes. The council.)

    (Here's another. As it stands, the Local Education Authority is obliged to step in and support a community school if its Ofsted results are poor. Is the Council Tax payer supposed to pay to support a failing academy? No, the Local Education Authority will CHARGE the academy. Until of course, the academy runs out of cash...)

  • Comment number 58.

    LEAs (or more correctly LAs nowadays) are very good for centralising some essential functions. Will every academy have legal expertise, IT expertise, financial expertise, child psychological expertise and how will that be paid for?

    A better solution might be to get the politics out of the LA and let it support schools without wanting to control them. Get parents back to proper parenting, LAs to support schools and schools to educate our children.

    At the moment, everyone is playing parents except the parents! LAs desperatly want to do it but can't because they don't have the contact with children. School staff don't want to do, but are being forced to. Parents? Who knows what many of them are up to - not parenting, that's for sure.

    I know - impossible to achieve in the short time, but we've got to start heading back in the direction that everyone does their own job properly.

  • Comment number 59.

    How many more changes to the education system does there have to be before these political incompetents wake up to reality.

    Firstly let the education professionals get on with their jobs by removing all the red tape and daily form filling.

    Two wake up to the fact that some people (I am one) learn through practical / visual learning not through words and books. Bring back the practical subjects such as woodwork and metalwork.

    Create jobs meaningful jobs for the less intelligent in society and give them hope for a career and future, as there are too many kids who come from generations of unemployed families where living on benefits is an acceptable occupation.

    Plan the need for education and skills. Take the need for nuclear power stations it will take at least ten years to get these off the drawing board so training people now, but those in power won’t or are incapable of committing to such long term planning, instead we will rely on migrant workers.

    Like everything, education should get back to basics, should be multi tiered where a child attends according to its ability not its postcode.

    All the proposed scheme will do is rob existing schools of cash.

  • Comment number 60.

    I really do wish that politicians would stop messing about with our education system.

    There has been zero improvement over the last 30 years, if anything at all has happened, standards have dropped considerably.

    Dodgy government statistics won't cure anything or fool anyone either.
    Dodgy stats were a big thing in the USSR, didn't do them and good in the long run though.

  • Comment number 61.

    43. At 11:09am on 26 May 2010, surely not? wrote:

    The one thing that does worry me is the fact that schools will be able to set their own curricula. What's to stop a school being run by a religious cult that wants to promote creationism over science?"

    1) The parents
    2) The GCSE Biology syllabus

    If the parents believe in creationism, and the children are taught evolution as another theory about how things came to be, sufficient for them to pass a Biology exam, then, really, what does it matter?

    Understanding the theory of evolution is not a critical life skill (even most scientists don't understand it well), nor is it necessary for further study in most parts of Biology (medicine, pharmaceuticals etc), or for all parts of other sciences.

    At the moment we have lots of schools promoting particular political views, and no one cares, as long as there is at least some attempt at balance, and the views are not promoting hatred or discrimination.

  • Comment number 62.

    55. At 11:51am on 26 May 2010, kevinjcole wrote:

    There is a strong danger of creating a 2 tier education system where the wealthy academies get the pick of the pupils and the remaining less affluent majority have to get by with less resources and assistance."

    What makes you think the wealthy academies would pick the WEALTHY pupils? Since the pupils aren't paying, then surely they wouldn't care - they'd just want the good pupils.

    Sort of like Grammar Schools...

    Also, you're forgetting the other key coalition education policy - 'pupil premiums'. These mean that pupils from disadvantaged areas get more funding, so schools will have an incentive to want those pupils, rather than the wealthy ones.

  • Comment number 63.

    As a British taxpayer why should I have to pay for what is effectively the private education of someone else's children?

  • Comment number 64.

    41. At 11:07am on 26 May 2010, Rufus McDufus wrote:
    "23. At 10:39am on 26 May 2010, Gordon Hutchison wrote:
    How can the public trust Michael Gove to look after their children's education when what you have is a person born in Edinburgh,raised in Aberdeen, who clearly has now developed an accent to be seen as one of the "Cameron/Osborne" toffs. "

    Lost his accent, like Tony Blair, you mean?

    Nice try. Blair left Scotland at the age of 19 months, whereas Gove was born, raised and educated there.

  • Comment number 65.

    It seems crazy to me to change something that is obviously working otherwise why are these schools outstanding! Con-dems method is to change for the sake of change!

  • Comment number 66.

    An article in the Daily Mail in February 2009 suggests "Taxpayers will be forced to step in to bail out a £21.5bn programme for new hospitals, schools and roads because private funding has dried up in the recession." The Tories at that time were calling for Labour to end the Public Finance Initiative. Why do they now think that inviting business to become involved in the running of Academies will fare any better?

    This policy will be found to lead to a divisive society, with the privatisation of some state school and public finances finding their way to public schools. What will be the cost of the bail out when it all goes belly up?

  • Comment number 67.

    With the current levels of literacy and numeracy for UK kids amongst the worst in Europe, anything to try and drag us up the league table would be a bonus!! My stepson, arriving from Ukraine in 2005 to learn in an English Boarding School, was forced to mark time on his learning while UK kids caught up with him. Absolutely ludicrous!!
    Our approach to learning is woefully inadequate. What we consider "outstanding" in this country, is classed as "junk" by other countries.

  • Comment number 68.

    Ideally, a child needs three things to succeed in education: a supportive home, a secure environment and a good school. Two of those things can make up for a deficiency in one of the others; but if a child has only one, then any advance is really difficult. Too many schools are designated 'failing' when, in fact, they are fighting a gallant battle against unsupportive homes and a child-hostile environment.

    The new 'free' schools will, in fact, be highly selective: ambitious, sharp-elbowed middle class parents will ensure that their children get a place and the kids from the scruffy estates will be consigned to the state schools which will sink even further in achievement and morale. I'm not blaming parents for wanting the best for their children - but I do grieve for the youngsters who have no one interested enough in their education to fight for them, or with the ability to improve their environment. With limited resources poured into free schools for the middle classes, the failing schools will become deserts of non-achievement. And no one with any power will care, because the articulate, forceful, ambitious parents will have got what they want.

    To improve education for those at the bottom of the social heap, we need to focus on the home and the environment in which a child spends its early years. We acquire a third of our vocabulary before the age of 5. If a child cannot speak, how can it learn to read? Surestart is already making great headway; then, instead of forcing children to read at 5, encourage instead the use of the spoken language through conversation, poetry, songs and play. Once confidence and fluency in speech is achieved, reading is much easier.

    A drive to encourage responsible parenthood from birth onwards, nnd to create a civilised environment in which children can grow,are the real ways to raise standards in education.

  • Comment number 69.

    57. At 11:57am on 26 May 2010, David Horton wrote:

    (Here's one. An Acadamy burns down. Is the Local Education Authority supposed to pay for it to be rebuilt? Who pays for its temporary re-housement? Ah yes. The council.)"

    Isn't that what insurance is for?

  • Comment number 70.

    63. At 12:05pm on 26 May 2010, GoBetween wrote:

    As a British taxpayer why should I have to pay for what is effectively the private education of someone else's children? "

    Because those children will be supporting you in your old age.

  • Comment number 71.

    Trust the Unions to start moaning about this. I welcome the day that the unions are removed from British life. All unions do is destroy business for their own gain claiming to be for the working man when the leadership are paid more than most executives.

    If this suggestion works (a big if) then great, our schools need all the help they can get but with less government intervention. My schooling suffered by striking left wing teachers, I dont want my children to suffer the same.

  • Comment number 72.

    Our local schools are awful, where can I send my children ? Only option for west sussex seems to be private and that costs a fortune.

    I just dont know what to do, secondary education provision is terrible and the schools that are reasonable are so over subscribed, if you live too far you just dont get in.

  • Comment number 73.

    66. At 12:11pm on 26 May 2010, Val wrote:

    An article in the Daily Mail in February 2009 suggests "Taxpayers will be forced to step in to bail out a £21.5bn programme for new hospitals, schools and roads because private funding has dried up in the recession." The Tories at that time were calling for Labour to end the Public Finance Initiative. Why do they now think that inviting business to become involved in the running of Academies will fare any better?"

    As far as I can tell, the 'inviting business to become involved' is NOT a key part of the academy scheme proposed by this government.

    These academies will not be tied to any company at all (unless they choose to be), they will just be freed from LEA control.

    It's different from Labour's scheme - unfortunate it has the same name.

  • Comment number 74.

    It's basically PRIVATISATION by a cynical devious pretentious back door method.

    Some schools will of course do better basically by excluding more of those children who cost more or reflect badly in school assessments. The remaining authority run schools will basically be a differnt class of school, hence a new class system will be imposed on cmany children from the first day they attend school.

    Getting private business involved just means ONE THING. PROFITS. Profits for business and money taken out of our education system to line the pockets who are able to take advantage of social expenditure gravy train.

    This is basically a sell off of some of the LAST remaining assets of our nation, which are basically the social structures and services which are a central part of our society. It will be private businesses and groups who will then own school buildings and land, the land whether it is freehold or leasehold.

    I think you will also find that over the next years there will be a growth of monster schools and also a huge growth in failing schools solely because of so many people involved, who like football supporters, think they could do better, but in reality theres absolutely NO CHANCE.

    I should think that as previous, where head teachers had TOO MUCH FREEDOM & POWER, they will again even ban egg & spoon races and other areas, just because of political ideology or even religious theological beliefs which is far removed from reality.

    Basically, because we are paying off MASSIVE national debts, PURELY attained as a result of banks behaviour, more of our social structures are going to be handed over to private industry, or left to degenerate via reliance on charity and charitable organisations.

    There seems to be this constant Tory political conspiracy to enhance private investors pockets over the long term, for possible short term gains.

    It also means that BLAME for attrocious incompetance in education, hospitals, energy supply, water supply, road management and maintenance, student grants, exam marking, etc etc etc, can all just be washed off politicians hands and blamed on others.

    This is NOT ABOUT creating better society responsibility, its ACTUALLY and FACTUALLY about government DUMPING their responsibility on a public desperate for competant and efficient services and who are going to be still paying for costs and expenditure of more failures for generations to come.

    Such changes being planned to various areas of government policy expenditure, just do NOT make sense when resource funding is going to MASSIVELY decline.

    Implementing such changes without serious extra EXPENSE is IMPOSSIBLE, anyone who can add 1+1 should be able to work that out.

    What many of these changes mean, is that as well as impending MASSIVE CUTS to expenditure, this EXTRA expenditure will HAVE TO BE attained/gained from even DEEPER cuts to finance them, with just ONE exception which is of course where business puts in its OWN money and which will EXERT/EXTRACT a PROFITABLE RETURN on it's investment. Which takes us BACK to the CENTRAL and FACTUAL issue, which is PRIVATISATION of schools and hospitals.

    I should think as this parliament progresses, also of privatisation of roads and road tolls and congestion charges, because our roads STILL need to be maintained, but cuts = LESS taxation money available. Hence government will force MORE INDIRECT ADDED expenditure to UK population, most probably using "green/environmental" excuses/arguments for implementing such policys, while basically it is just a different way of extracting yet more money from citizens.

    Will more academy schools improve education?


    In all reality, I doubt it.

  • Comment number 75.

    In the 60's and 70's, I went to the village primary school and the comprehensive school in the next village.

    Life was so much easier and better, then.


  • Comment number 76.

    Although I am no fan of the local authority controlled schools Im not sure the academy schools will be the answer either.If its a Tory idea it will end up just like the rail franchise system-backed by tax payers cash but being able to charge ever increasing amounts to justify an education for children however more importantly "profit".Just look at what has happened to the railways-its not rocket science.If you are thinking of having kids then start saving now or your kids wont be going to school and no doubt the parents imprisoned for not sending their kids for education. Of course you could always choose to home educate your kids. There is only going to be one outcome -plenty of teachers out of work and education as we know it gone forever.If your training to be a teacher think twice!

  • Comment number 77.

    This is simply a trick to absolve government of responsibility in the provision of education. Instead of taking proper responsibility for running schools, they will privatise them for reasons of nothing but dogma - fancy dealing with a call centre in India about your child's education rather than your local education authority? It's coming!
    We'll see many people kicked out of jobs to fund private profit, salaries, benefits and career prospects reduced for those in education (I'm not in education or the public sector BTW), more scope to allow 'nutters' to run schools - we already have several academies in this country teaching creationism as if it were science - more schools manipulating their entrance policies to allow for hidden selection and more hideous 'faith' schools practising the child abuse that is religious indoctrination.
    The history of academies is a chequered one - statistics show that they're just as likely to fail as any other school - but of course they're not at all accountable to local taxpayers.

  • Comment number 78.

    Academies are a New Labour idea (we already have them!) so Conservalibs should not be too enthusiastic.

    All governments make a lot of noise about education but do very little to change how education develops.

    The success of any education system is what happens to those who fail, not those who succeed.

  • Comment number 79.

    It all depends on what is taught and how it is taught. They need to teach meaningful subjects, so, with quality Teachers, good discipline & non-feral children, then yes of course they'll work.

  • Comment number 80.

    Plenty of private schools achieve outstanding results without Local Authorities taking 10% of their income to pay for bureaucratic controls/processes.

    Spurned on by the last government, the problem is that bureaucracy is out of control in this country. By all means let's keep school inspectors (not what Local Authorities do) but everything else - all the Labour quangos and big government micromanagement let's get rid of for schools that are performing well.

    Power to the teachers. Not to the bureaucrats.

  • Comment number 81.

    • 5. At 09:49am on 26 May 2010, steve wrote:
    Locally we already have a situation where two local state Comprehensive schools (one located in a very expensive residential area the other a Roman Catholic Faith School) effectively practice a policy of excluding students with special needs while engaging in postcode selection when it suits them. But are quite happy to bus in students from other areas when it results in excluding those locally who might not quite be as gifted academically.

    This means the other local comprehensives have a far higher percentage of students who need more support.

    Allowing such schools (both would qualify for fast track)to become academies would simply be giving official condonement to their unofficial exclusion policy

    I am not a teacher, I work in facilities management and I have managed buildings for a wide range of clients, all having different needs and priorities and I understand that “same” does not fit everything.

    Now I don’t wish to sound raciest or bias, but it would seem that specialist schools equipped to deal with children who do need more support are required. My daughter is 17 years old and whilst I would not describe her has dyslexic her reading and writing are perhaps not what they shluld be; this in turn leads to poor marks with her college course.

    “It’s a good job we are not all the same”

    I would not wish for my daughter to delay or hold back the brightest of pupils because I realise that we are not all the same, and whilst we pursue the dream of equality for all, we are ignoring that fact that nature always seems to select strong and weak throughout every species on the planet and we are no different. Whilst it would seem politically incorrect to say this, the truth is the truth.
    Now what is to stop my daughter from reading well if properly taught by a specialist teacher who has the time to do this, would not such a school do well in the general market place if they can achieve such results with weaker pupils? Once the basic building blocks are in place and someone has the basic skills to put ideas down on paper can lead to the same kind of success, the brighter, quicker pupils could see.

    The problem most will face is that the parent will not recognise or should I say not want to recognise that there children could be special needs.

    My daughter will more than likley never be a high flyer I have accepted that, like wise she may never have that dream job, like most of us don’t. But, this does not mean I am not proud of every little achievement that she has made.

  • Comment number 82.

    These latest proposals are not just "spin".
    They are an ideological attack of the state provision of education and part of an ideological commitment to the increasing marketisation of public services.
    I don't just blame the present coalition.
    Nu-Labour opened these doors with so-called academy schools and so-called trust hospitals.
    The Toe-Rags and their fellow-travellers will be more than happy to push at this open door.
    The result will be a multi-tier marketised system of education.

    It's bad enough already.
    The prime minister (and many of his cabinet colleagues) went to Eton and other public schools)
    How many readers of these comments did the same ?

  • Comment number 83.

    We all know the answer to social mobility is Grammar schools.

    If some academies can select on academic ability, they will be a success as long as other local schools complement them, by focusing on vocational skills instead. If all the schools are working on "5 good GCSE's" nothing much will change.

  • Comment number 84.

    I am not against academies where nothing else will work. This was Blair's idea for lifting 'bog-standard' comprehensives out of trouble. There are only 200 and they have not seriously affected the functioning of local authorities.

    The coalition proposal is another matter. LAs are there to manage those functions that are best and most cheaply run centrally, eg admissions policy, child protection, in-service training. If such services become totally devolved then the bureaucracy will become duplicated for every school. Admissions policy should be administered centrally to avoid unfair catchment area scenarios. It all sounds very expensive to me and will result in lack of cohesion across the local education service. Non-academy schools are likely to lose out on resources because more will be needed at academy start up time and if academies go bankrupt.

    I think it would have been better to give teachers and head teachers more autonomy by reducing the national curriculum, by measuring children's learning through APP instead of SATs and by modifying league tables by showing value added by the school rather than raw assessment scores. I hope the minister is not saying you can only have autonomy if you become an academy.

    By the way. I have seen a lot of ignorant comments berating Labour's performance, usually without any elaboration. We need to remember the vast improvements in school buildings, school equipment, staffing and extended school services. Standards have also risen significantly up to the plateau they are now on. More could have been done. Targets and too many initiatives were a mistake, but at least Labour began the process of slimming down the over-blown over prescriptive, nanny-state national curriculum of the Thatcher years.

  • Comment number 85.

    Those who describe the new labour as leftist or socialist ( utterly ridiculous ) have failed to spot the market lead ideology of Thatcher that now permeates British politics and which the last government embraced. This is simply a continuation of that. There is an assumption now that private enterprise is best for any public service and that the methods of big business are always the best way forward and can fit any situation.
    Hence the obsession with targets, cuts and rewarding those who are succeeding. This totally ignores the fact that hospitals, schools etc are not businesses in the normal sense, no matter how much people attempt to mould them like this.
    Businesses are about generating profit, which they do through ruthless competition not necessarily by offering the best service.
    These academies will not succeed as intended because quite simply effective education is not about generating profit. Numerous studies in America ( where all these ideas have come from ) show that people bend the rules to meet targets if they can earn money from it, they don't improve the service, just the perception of how they are doing.
    The last thing we need in education is a new tier of suits, taking credit for teachers hard work and massaging stats in order to award themselves fat bonuses. That will be the inevitable outcome of this policy.

  • Comment number 86.

    I wish the government would stop messing about with names, a quick search on the English Dictionary reveals....

    School... a place where children go to be educated

    Academy... an organization intended to protect and develop an art, science, language, etc., or a school which teaches a particular subject or trains people for a particular job.

    I do not want to send my kids to an Academy I want to send them to School!

  • Comment number 87.

    Gordon Hutchison wrote: "How can the public trust Michael Gove to look after their children's education when what you have is a person born in Edinburgh,raised in Aberdeen, who clearly has now developed an accent to be seen as one of the "Cameron/Osborne" toffs. What a totally false individual person who also doesn't have a clue about Education"
    Does Gordon Hutchison personally know Michael Gove to claim he is a false individual? If not then the assertions he makes are surely akin to a form racism. I come from Birmingham and no longer have a brummie accent (but am proud to be a brummie). I find these types of comments, based upon a person's characteristics offensive. Shame on you Mr Hutchison (and no, I didn't vote for the Conservatives.....)

  • Comment number 88.

    No it will not improve education. It will try to give education on the cheap. So expect more inexperienced teachers. It is an insult to say that most state schools are rubbish, the fact is that most of them are performing better than the so called 'elite' schools; not in terms of the raw results, but in terms of the improvement of the pupils over their time in the school.

    I have sent the elder of my children to expensive private schools, and the younger ones to the local state school. I can see no difference in the quality of the education; but a great difference to my financial state. I expect that my younger children will perform as well, and get just as good university results as the older ones; if not better.

    I live in Bristol which has, in the recent past, been slated by Ofsted as under-performing. However, the reason is the high number of private schools in the city which cream off the best of the pupils (at great cost to the parents). There are also academies in Bristol, but they are not performing any better than the local, rival, state schools.

    This is an unnecessary change, and will not benefit the pupils in the long run.

  • Comment number 89.

    No, I don't think they will make any difference. What will make a difference is discipline, streaming and a syllabus that is not aimed at the lowest common denominator.

  • Comment number 90.

    This is a fantastic development! It's about time schools were given the opportunity for more independent governance, free from the often inappropriate and sometimes downright detrimental local authority regulations. This is particularly true for places like Wales, where the WAG has been particularly heavy-handed regarding interference with the school curriculum. I think the coalition government could not have made a better start on this front.

  • Comment number 91.

    It means local school takes on management role; they need to be prepared for that with appropriate skills. Success and standards still can be monitored centrally with Ofsted etc. The benefits are flexibility for local decisions but we also need to watch that we do not lose benefit of collective purchasing negotiation to reduce costs. Here we need dynamic councils that potentially could offer centralised purchasing as a service at some fee or mark-up.

  • Comment number 92.

    Like many parents we are getting worried here ... Does all this mean if we have a good neighbourhood comprehensive that changes to an "academy" that school then can start hard selection criteria, deciding who it wants meaning say creaming off the very very best...if so bang goes lots of freedom of choice and definately any support for the conlibdems! Do not forget there are many Tory voters out there who moved into an area to be able to get access to that local good school.

  • Comment number 93.

    Education has been beset by political fashions over the last 40 years. Time we wrested control of Education back from wannabe do-gooders & get back on track with the basics i.e. a good grounding in the good old values ofNumeracy, Languages & the Sciences!

  • Comment number 94.


  • Comment number 95.


    Next question?

    Oh, you want an explanation? Simple, churches will be jumping for joy and "buying" schools all over the place. Creationist teaching, here we come. And it'll all go downhill from there.

  • Comment number 96.

    The Labour Party are against it, the teaching unions are against it and local authorities are against it. What better recommendation do you need??

  • Comment number 97.

    What was wrong with the old Grammar Schools - Technical Colleges etc., Nothing apparently as it provided education for the mature members of The Government who are now changing things - why !!!

    This is just a hollow costly gesture - it would be far better to stop the decimation of our manufacturing base so that jobs and a future are clearly visible.

    No they will not improve education at all !

  • Comment number 98.

    Those of us who attended grammar schools have seen the deterioration in standards at schools. I went to a grammar school but my sister attended a local secondary modern. She learned plenty and got a good job but had something lacking. A secondary modern did not produce a 'polish' or 'finesse' in its pupils. Yes, I call them 'pupils'. 'Students' were at university or college.

    My own children went to a very good comprehensive school which had been a grammar school until the year they joined it. It had the same headmaster and he reigned over the school in exactly the same way even though he had all sorts of children there. The pupils were streamed according to ability for each subject. That's how it should be in any school and I suspect that that is the way that comprehensive schools work. Or should. (In 1984, I saw one of the A level mock exam papers. I was so surprised that I came out with, "I was doing this at O-level!". Do they do French literature in GCSE French these days? I doubt it.)

    If academies are allowed to select pupils through a modern 11+, good. Let's just hope that the members of staff are able to produce the preferred standard of result for the gifted and talented. But let's not forget the 13+ that was around in the 1950s. It was a sort of second chance for those who had not passed the 11+. One of my cousins failed his 11+ so went to a secondary modern school. His 13+ changed his life forever. He had been learning music since he was about 8 years old and finished up at the Royal College of Music after moving to a technical school(now a 'university') when he was 13.

    Comprehensives give talented and gifted pupils a chance academically but those who finish up as hairdressers, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers etc should be at technical schools where they will have more of what they are good at. It is not to be sniffed at. They all earn good money these days.

    Let's hope that this initiative of academies takes off with a varied 'end product' of employees for which the country is desperate.

  • Comment number 99.

    Given the vast majority of negative comments on this topic I hate to do this but - you got what you voted for!
    This is just a continuation of 'prostitution politics', started by Blair who prosituted democratic socialism for power. Now @dave and Nick' have both prosituted princile for power. We even have our new children's Minister, Sarah Teather who before the election called these plans a shambles and our new Schools Minister saying "I would rather have a physics graduate from Oxbridge without a PGCE teaching in a school than a physics graduate from one of the rubbish universities with a PGCE."
    As for Academies see the bbc site dated 14th May - Stockport Academy judged as 'inadequate' - only the third one run by United Learning Trust to be so judged, so why did we let them have a third?

  • Comment number 100.

    At last, a sensible plan to sort out the mess the communist workers party have left our education system in. The truth is that not all men are created equal, some are much more intelligent and instinctively have more sense & manners than others. The fact that most of these pupils come from a wealthier background demonstrates that this difference is by all accounts genetic.
    This plan will at last bring back a system that favours the type of person that will lead this country back to our former glories before the socialist dead ends of the past 50-60 years.
    I see nothing wrong with the non-academies getting less cash and having bigger class sizes, this will encourage competition and the best will rise to the top, which is what this country needs.


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