To steal an opening line….
I have been an academy governor for four years, one month and thirteen days and this much I know about academisation…
The government’s argument for forced academisation would appear to be something along these lines. “We cannot sustain two schools systems, those funded through Local Authorities and those funded through the EFA as it is too expensive to do so. Having one system will be much easier to manage.”
This is an attempt by government to work around the fact that their “Academies raise standards” argument has clearly failed to gain any acceptance outside of, well, actually, the truth is no one believes that, not even them.
The reasons given for the lack of sustainability are predominantly that LAs don’t seem to be able to provide the necessary support for the schools they are still responsible for.
There are, of course, a number of problems with this argument.
Simply put, the reason for the lack of capacity in LAs is the ramping up of, no, sorry, the rocket-boosting, of the academies programme undertaken by the Coalition government from 2010 onwards. This had a disproportionate, predictable and predicted effect.
Largely the schools that converted were successful secondaries. So they were larger than the average school (being secondary and not primary) and lower users of LA services than the average. So when the funding for these schools central services were taken, the LAs had proportionately less resource to deal with proportionately ‘needier’ schools. As I say, this was foreseeable and foreseen. That the government did not listen (or understand) this is entirely their own fault. The problem with this is that the more and more I think on this the more I am convinced this was a deliberate act. After all, those involved in the propagation of this policy profess to be clever people. Clever enough to foresee the problem themselves or clever enough to listen to those who understood the system enough to see what would happen. Either they weren’t clever enough or they chose to ignore the problem. There is no other possibility to consider.
So the standards argument is being thrown overboard and the two-systems problem was entirely created by the government. Also going out of the window is the autonomy argument. David Carter, the recently appointed National Schools Commissioner shot this fox in a presentation he prepared.
The NSC has pointed out that he expects a national system to consist of 1,000 Multi-Academy Trusts. The DfE have said they expect very few academies will not be in MAT. So the autonomy argument is dead. Along with meaningful local level governance.
What’s left? Well, there are two. The money saving argument, which I think possibly holds water. Long term. And then there’s the ‘two-systems’ argument discussed above, which I usually posit as the “We appear to have broken all your eggs, would you like an omelette” argument.
The government are trying to clear up their own mess by creating an experimental school system. I am clear in my belief that they have absolutely no idea how the system will look when they finish. I think they see that as a feature of their plan, rather than for the flaw that it is. There is no evidentiary basis to creating the system they want, no exemplars to work from. I am not against change, but I am against untested change. I’m against change with no roadmap. I’m against throwing the chessboard in the air to cover up their lack of competence. I’m against change that is carried out under cover of darkness and I am against change foisted on people using a litany of distorted facts, half-truths and out and out lies.
Change that sustains is carried out in the open, with truth to nurture its development and widespread support to carry it through difficult times.
Someone needs to stop, take a look around, and work out that forced academisation is not that.