The monitoring of free schools and academies continues to cause misery for the DfE but more importantly for the children, parents and staff at Discovery – ordered to close less than two years after opening; at Al-Madinah described by Ofsted as chaotic; Kings Science Academy, Lincoln Priory, Barnfield … the list goes on. On 2 December the DfE refused a FOI request saying ‘recent press claims about the creation of regional regulatory bodies were speculation and based on out of date information’ , but just three days later adverts for the £140,000 commissioners appeared in the TES.
Business interest in the edumarket becomes ever more complex. Joining the well known big name UK players, Local Schools Network discovered there’s overseas interest in Gove’s ‘supply side revolution’ in rural Oxfordshire.
Price of Freedom
Meanwhile the National Audit Office reported on the establishment of the free school programme. The programme, which has cost twice as much as planned, saw no applications to open primary Free Schools in half of all districts with high or severe forecast need for places. One of the few points of praise for the DfE was for low build costs – yes, the DfE celebrates educating our children in cheap and often inappropriate buildings.
It’s time for the annual Failure Fest when the wise men pontificate on PISA , floor targets and the Ofsted annual report; justifying our schools being gifted to saviours from the private sector.
The PISA tables held little joy for the proponents of free and profit-making schools with Sweden tumbling down the rankings. As for our Secretary of State, PISA statistics tell him to reform harder and faster with a narrower curriculum. Over at Ofsted, Sir Michael recommends reintroducing more external bureaucratic testing for primary and secondary children.
Fighting Forced Academies
The new round of performance tables will be used by the DfE to bully and coerce schools into academy status. In a welcome and principled stand, Barking & Dagenham Council has said it will ballot parents whenever academy status is proposed.
Hear Our Voice
There are still a few days left to submit testimony on the academies programme to the Education Select Committee. You can make your views known to the Committee until Thursday 19 December 2013
Hope to see you at the Anti Academies Alliance Annual Meeting: Fighting Forced Academies.
1:00-4:00pm on Saturday 25 January 2014 in Central London.