27 Mar, 2016

activematters opinion | Education white paper and academies

Cross-party move against England’s academy schools plan

Leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups in the Local Government Association have combined to oppose plans to force all English schools to become academies.

In a joint letter to the Observer, they urge ministers to reconsider the plans.

White Paper proposals:

  • All schools in England to move to academy status
  • New funding system designed to benefit disadvantaged areas
  • Heads who take over struggling schools given a two-and-a-half-year reprieve from Ofsted inspections, to enable them to turn things around
  • An end to the legal obligation for academies to have parents as governors in all schools
  • A shake-up of governance, with a greater obligation to consult with parents

Accreditation system for teacher training to be approved by head teachers – scrapping the current “qualified teacher status”.

The letter is signed by Cllr David Hodge, Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Marianne Overton, Leader of the Independent Group and Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group.

activematters opinion | Education white paper and academies

What everybody seems to be conveniently forgetting …….

There are serious attendant issues/changes that come attached to this white paper that directly impact Early Years…all within the same time frame! The education white paper is a 10 year strategy – where is the corresponding one for Early Years? Surely you need the raw materials?  – ‘properly prepped kids’ to start you on your quest for the educational utopian vision…?

  1. Ofsted and Early Years
  2. State run Nurseries attached to primaries
  3. 30 hour free provision and the gaps that have already been highlighted
  4. CMO guidelines

The list is extensive – the upshot is simple.

If all schools are forced into academies…the first issue will be intake….with no local authority involvement – the push back from schools will be enormous – by virtue of the fact that the ‘business model’ will not accommodate children who are not ‘fit’ for progression from early years into the mainstream system.

The Ofsted ‘take over’ of EY inspection with no track record in the field will play havoc – the obvious example here.

What will happen when a state nursery achieves a good rating but the attached primary does not? Or – more likely – a good state school refuses to accept intake from Ofsted inferior nurseries?

The obvious outcome will be a move towards a commercial enterprise model – inevitably adding downward pressure on costs.

The most expensive component  therefore – will be staffing – the issue will very quickly become ‘quality’ and – by default – trained staff. 

Since the metrics attached to all of this completely excludes EY/PD…if, it is bad now, its only going to get worse….. shareholders will only be interested in the metrics that are part of the ‘sponsorship deal’…..CMO activity guidelines – sorry we don’t get measured on those!

If you are an SEND child or obese…….(how soon before the two are linked)…….. Again the ‘push back’ will be significant.