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Tuesday 25 October 2011

Forced Academy

From Headteacher:

We are one of the 200 primaries identified by the DfE who will be forced to be an academy.  In our last Ofsted in February this year we had 25 of the 30 judgements graded as good or outstanding[5]  What power has the broker got to force a sponsor on us or can the Governors choose?

30 answers – add yours below

  1. dave said:

    Why is it that all the questions on this site sound like quotes from ‘1984’ with ordinary people willingly using NEWSPEAK (if you don’t know what ‘newspeak’ means, trying looking up the term on Wikipedia or somewhere).

    Either you are the master of language, or language is the master of you. ‘Academy’, ‘broker’, ‘sponsor’- you willingly speak their once meaningless buzzwords, but they certainly don’t care to speak YOUR language. How many new words does the government have you learn and then parrot, each year? And notice this trend started with the mass murdering war criminal, Tony Blair (whose educational policies, including academies, forced sixth form attendance, national service, and massively increased university fees the current ‘coalition’ is continuing to implement).

    To answer this question directly, there is no parent power at academies. Once they exist, all decisions are made by unaccountable forces, and any parent that objects has only one option- to withdraw their child. The parent of a child at an academy school has one position when requesting anything- ON THEIR KNEES.

    Most people in the UK believe in a carefully promoted fallacy- that schools are supposed to follow some kind of mandated curriculum. This has never been the case, since this would have meant that schools attended by the children of the rich and powerful would have been limited in their ability to offer advantage to children of the ‘ruling’ class- and that would never be accepted. Therefore, the legal structure already exists for academies to do exactly what they wish to the children in their ‘care’- including sickening psychological mistreatment and indoctrination. Likewise, academies are free to have any control or management structure they wish, with no regard to the parents.

    The academy movement desires to control the debate by choosing the language used, and the concepts explored. They make you fight on a battlefield of their choosing. To win, you must reverse this. Choose your own battlegrounds, where the enemy is the weakest, and accept no agenda that comes from their side. Use your words and terms- never theirs.

    Politicians in the UK have shown themselves time and time again capable of willingly inflicting the greatest of evil on ordinary decent Humans. Go read about the history of slavery, or workhouses, or child labour, or homes for ‘fallen’ women. The academy movement is just another in this long line of atrocities inflicted on ordinary people to ‘keep them in line’.

    Academies have the same hours and regimes of those schools you see in South Korea and other West friendly Asian nations (where creativity and invention is the tiniest fraction of that which flows from British or American schools). How soon before British politicians allow the sickening corporal punishment one sees inflicted on those same kids in the Asian schools (on children from 5 to 18+). Physical battering is the next stage to psychological battering, and is supported by the exact same arguments academy schools use to defend their current regimes.

    2 November 2011 at 9:41pm
  2. Janet said:

    I don’t know how helpful you found the previous response but I’m surprised to hear that a school with (presumably) a good Ofsted is being forced to convert. I though it was ‘underperforming’ schools.

    What was the school’s overall judgement?

    10 November 2011 at 8:59pm
  3. headteacher said:

    Our overall grade was satisfactory, as attainment was graded inadequate. This despite the fact that teaching and learning, leadership and management, and capacity for improvement were graded as good.

    11 November 2011 at 10:53am
  4. headteacher said:

    Achievement was also graded as good!!

    11 November 2011 at 10:55am
  5. Janet said:

    I guess this is partly to do with Gove’s ‘retrospective’ analysis, then. How awful for you.

    At the moment, I understand that Gove needs your LA’s agreement to force the school to convert. What’s the current situation with your LA? Are you definitely going to convert?

    11 November 2011 at 5:12pm
  6. tracey said:


    I am in the same position. I have just taken over the headship of a school that has results below floor targets although we have a positive CVA.I took over the headship as I strongly believe that children in challenging communities deserve a good education. (I could have stayed at my previous school where we were rated good with outstanding features!) The last ofsted of the school said it was satisfactory with good features, behaviour, safeguarding and well being lus others but apparently this counts for nothing. I know of two other schools with similar ratings and all 3 of us have been told we must convert into academy by Sep 2012! Does this mean that OFSTED counts for nothing!!!!!!!!

    18 November 2011 at 9:29pm
  7. Alasdair said:

    There is appears to be coordinated effort by ministers, OFSTED and some LAs to present schools with fait accompli over switching to academy status. Underperformance is being re- defined and academy conversion with a sponsor seems to be the only tool in their school improvement tool box. It is not only undemocratic, but also educationally unsound. There is no evidence academy conversion improves schools. Many school communities are now facing this bullying approach. But the good news is that many are resisting. I spoke to over 100 parents and teachers at a primary school in north London last night in a meeting organised by parents to resit forced conversion. If the school community unites and protests you can defeat this blatant privatisation by government dictat. Let’s take Gove on and perhaps challenge OFSTED too.

    19 November 2011 at 10:07am
  8. headteacher said:

    And now Mr Gove has the power as the legislation got royal assent on Wednesday.

    19 November 2011 at 11:19am
  9. Julie said:

    He doesn’t have any powers that haven’t been around before. Under the last Tory government, the secretary of state had the power to seize control of the school and replace the governors with something called an Education Association. That didn’t stop parents, teachers and local councils from campaigning to stop it happening.

    19 November 2011 at 2:31pm
  10. Mary Doyle said:

    We are in the same position – I am a governor at a school that has been named. We have organised a campain and in fact the meeting Alasdair spoke at that he refers to above, was at our school. Staff, Parents and Governors are united against our schools forced conversion and willing to demonstrate and fight this if necesary (although we would much rather they left us alone so we could just concentrate on our childrens education). We have now got tshirts, a banner outside our school, leaflets (some of which are being translated to communtiy languages). We are having a huge winter festival communtiy event this Saturday, 3rd December from 2pm to 5pm at the school and will be using it as a great campaign opportunity as well as a child centred fun communtiy event. If anyone wants to come and support us please contact our campaign on savedownhills@hotmail.co.uk

    1 December 2011 at 1:28pm
  11. andrea wilson said:


    It would be great to come and support your school but obviously we need to understand why the schools has consistently failed a large proportion of its pupils over the last 10 years.
    Could you let us know, as a governor, why the current management team has been unable to bring about improvement and it remains in special measures.
    This schools (according to OFSTED) has been underperforming since 2000, so not sure the current management team/local authority partnership is working.
    Of course I am open to your arguments and would be interested in knowing what you intend to do to improve the pupils outcomes – maybe a bit more effort doing this rather than spending time on leaflets, t-shirts and banners might be helpful.
    Also if you have a way forward to improve the school why has it taken 11 years to implement it.
    I have to say it does not look good from the outside.

    3 December 2011 at 7:13pm
  12. Janet said:

    I’m a parent at the school to which Mary Doyle refers. The school isn’t in special measures. It wasn’t on Gove’s original list of 200 ‘underperforming’ primaries. Ofsted are of the view that the school is rapidly improving.
    As you say, you are on the outside and have no idea what you’re talking about.

    3 December 2011 at 7:38pm
  13. Janet said:

    And could you, Andrea, provide us with evidence that forcing sponsors with no experience in education (but lots of educational resources for their schools to purchase) onto primary schools has been a successful strategy for educational achievement?

    3 December 2011 at 8:27pm
  14. Andrea Wilson said:

    Janet, thanks for the information, and as a parent your support of the school is to be applauded.
    With regard to academy chains I suggest you take a look at the record of Harris and ARK, both have an outstanding record of transforming and improving schools in a similar position to yours.

    I would assume a good Govening Body and management team will have explored these options and shared the results with the parents and community. Perhaps Mary Doyle could let us know whether the management team have carried out this basic research and explain why the the current management team feel they are better placed to improve the school (the track record suggests otherwise) than experts with a proven track record.

    Of course there will be some who are happy to see the school continue it’s current path, and please correct me if I am wrong, which results in poor outcomes for a large proportion of children (according to 11 years of OFSTED inpections).

    Whatever happens I wish you good luck.

    4 December 2011 at 12:55pm
  15. Jane said:

    Andrea, rather than restating what the Government (past and present) have said, could you actually give me evidence that either ARK or Harris have this track record you talk about? In at least one case, Harris took over a school with already improving results, put made at least one student change from GCSE Spanish to vocational PE in order to “improve” results and then claimed the results which had been achieved by the predecessor school as their own achievement.

    Looking at the exam results for Harris overall, the one which stands out is the one which was a CTC and selective. It remains selective. In other academies, Harris use “fair banding” to adjust its intake.

    So – please give me evidence of this track record you speak of.

    4 December 2011 at 6:47pm
  16. andrea wilson said:

    Jane – you only need to go onto both their websites to see the actual facts of all the schools they have taken over and improved. Best do that than rather than listen to your biased view.
    Remember their results always include, and in fact always focus on, English and Maths.

    Perhaps Jane you could share the story of your failing schools results. Those obtaining 5 GCSEs (including Eng and Maths) results always around the 20% mark whilst you were involved, following academy conversion I believe the results are up around 60-70% with same intake – the parents say it is the best thing that ever happened to their school and community !
    Your track record at Westminister, Jane, is by far and away the best advert for Academy Conversion.

    4 December 2011 at 8:03pm
  17. Pete said:

    We are very keen for there to be a debate on our site about the academies and free schools programme. This includes views that we disagree with.
    However personalised insults such as those just left by Andrea are not acceptable on this site.
    It is not the first time you have done this. If you continue with this we will be forced to delete your post and bar you from commenting. I hope you will refrain from this sort of behaviour from now on.
    Pete Jackson, AAA office and web admin

    4 December 2011 at 8:23pm
  18. Janet said:

    If they’re not acceptable comments, then they should be removed by the moderators, I would suggest.

    Andrea, you are indeed incorrect about the ‘poor outcomes’ that our school achieves.

    No private company has a ‘proven track record’ of sustainable improvements in achievement over a period of time in the UK – academies haven’t been around long enough. Claims for ‘track records’ are somewhat premature.

    4 December 2011 at 8:40pm
  19. Jane said:

    Andrea: I have pointed out before that your information is incorrect. Perhaps, since you have been stalking my background, you could be open about yours and your vested interest. Could you also, instead of resorting to personal attacks, answer the question: where is your evidence of track record?

    I’m afraid that yours is a typical ploy of those defending the indefensible: don’t address the facts, attack the person.

    5 December 2011 at 10:03am
  20. Andrea Wilson said:

    Well it’s quite simple to show ARKs improvements which are running at An average of 11% per year.


    Harris are also similar with an average increase of 13% on pupils across their network of schools.

    These show the fantastic improvements across a network of schools. They are correct and not anecdotal.
    Perhaps you could correct me on the statistics at Westminister as they are also in the public domain and the academies that took over your old school have made fantastic improvements.
    If this is incorrect please provide the evidence as your anecdotal rhetoric does not stand up.

    Schools which have consistently failed to improve the life chances of their pupils need to have real experts taking over their schools. Its the children that matter not the existing managements egos.

    5 December 2011 at 3:31pm
  21. Janet said:

    “Real experts” like the US PFIs who have made a hash of running charter schools over there and are being given the go ahead by Gove to get their grubby hands on our community schools?

    A handful of children not performing their best in a few tests one day in May is not equivalent to a school “consistently failing to improve the life changes of their pupils”. It’s completely ridiculous to say that it is.

    6 December 2011 at 2:08pm
  22. Andrea Wilson said:


    I am not sure of your point, you asked me to give evidence of academy chains improving the schools they took over and I have.
    However you do not have to believe me, go to the websites of the various schools and they are unanimous that conversion to academy is the best thing that happened to their schools, this includes pupils, parents and teachers.

    It’s obvious that you have already made your mind up without considering the evidence, however your school governors have a duty to let parents know the options, including asking academy chains like Harris or ARK, to run the school. If your governing body are not doing this it’s a real pity.

    Again this is about the pupils and children and the evidence from the school in question (according to 11 years of OFSTED inspections) would indicate that too many children and families have been let down.
    you may think that is acceptable, thankfully many others do not.

    6 December 2011 at 3:48pm
  23. Jane said:

    Admittedly not quite uptodate but below is an analysis I did of Harris Ofsted reports after looking at their website. What was interesting was the reports which were not on their website!

    Ofsted Reports on Harris

    The Harris Federation website makes much of the Ofsted Reports which are positive but the statements in the reports are very open to questions.

    Bermondsey: rated “outstanding” but (based on 2009 results)
    MFL A*-C went down from 11% to 9% (restricted curriculum?)
    “Although attainment on entry is rising…” indicates any improvement is as a result of changing intake.
    “Most lessons were good or better but too few were outstanding”
    Other comments demonstrate that there have been radical changes and, as yet, no proof of the pudding. “Greatly improved systems.” “students are now clearer” “changes in senior leadership..”
    “in 2008, the progress they made in English and mathematics was among the very best nationally.” In 2009 they are in the top 1/4 for English and the top 1/3 for Maths but that is based on only 88% of population.

    Crystal Palace: “The academy is much larger than the average secondary school..” (1181!) “currently there are ten applicants for every available place” – questionable and dealt with under popularity.
    “Students are drawn from a very wide area across the inner city” – suggestive of using “fair banding” for selection. Very, very low SEN figures.

    Girls’ East Dulwich: Interestingly this report is not available on the Harris Federation Website. Could it be because the overall effectiveness of the school in meeting pupils needs was deemed to be a “3” in November 2008. A monitoring visit indicates some progress made.

    Harris Merton: The 2008 Ofsted report was reasonable and accurate but was not available on website. 2009 Monitoring visit for PHSE mentioned lack of time for PHSE in the timetable – possibly indicating again narrow focus.

    Harris at Peckham: Report accessible via website. June 2009 sounds very positive about new management and about improved results. However, 2009 results show a drop from 29% to 26% 5 A*-C e/m. Text sounds like students make good progress but only 50% make expected progress in E and M. Introduction of BTEC science.
    “Although the proportion of students gaining five or more A* to C grades, including English and mathematics, is still below the national average, there has been a 20 percentage point rise since the last inspection.” This figure only relates to results excluding E/M. When E/M is put in there is only a 3% improvement 2006-2009.
    CVA hasn’t shifted.

    South Norwood: overall judgement “outstanding” but text and individual gradings don’t add up to this. No mention of huge drop of approx 20%age of SEN in the 2009 KS4 cohort.

    6 December 2011 at 4:01pm
  24. Janet said:


    I asked you to provide evidence that sponsors with no previous track record in education will improve academic standards, rather than be going into education to line their own pockets?

    6 December 2011 at 4:31pm
  25. Andrea Wilson said:

    Janet – What a totally irrelevant question – show me the track record of someone who has no track record….? Strange question – what is your point?

    Jane it’s now 2011 and all the GCSE results for all the schools you mention are now a matter of public record – impressive aren’t they? 13% average improvement across all Harris network last year alone.
    I think individual quotes from OFSTED reports from 2008 are interesting but not useful when taken out of context.
    You state you did a study – and would you therefore agree that OFSTED believe they have greatly improved the schools they took over – yes?

    You were going to show me the evidence about your old school which I got wrong – could you just give me the GCSE results including Maths and English, for Westminister and the Acadamies replacing it. Should not take long as it’s the kind thing all us teachers and school leaders like to keep an eye on. Thanks as would not like you to think I was misrepresenting any facts.

    6 December 2011 at 5:46pm
  26. Jane said:

    ANDREA: your persistent repetition is incredibly boring and does you no favours. The last year’s exam results for NWCS are not on the DFE website. However, when the results for Paddington and Westminster Academies were averaged they were approximately the same as NWCS. Paddington Academy’s went down. As I have said, this accusation you made was shown to be false before, why do you keep repeating it and why persist.

    Harris Academy use fair banding and vocational courses. Harris Crystal Palace was a selective CTC before it became an academy. Harris at Peckham was, for years, a major problem.

    Would you give independent evidence, properly researched?

    6 December 2011 at 6:21pm
  27. Janet said:

    My point, Andrea, is that the government agenda of forcing inexperienced sponsors on schools to fulfil their own political agenda is a very dangerous experiment with the education of thousands of children.

    Forced, sponsored primary academies are new. For many children in our school, school is the only point of stability in their life. These are the exact children who need as much certainty of outcome as possible, not to be pawns in some central government experiment.

    LAs have their problems – ours certainly does – but it does at least employ staff who know something about education, so that if schools run into problems there’s some sort of safely net. Academies that run into problems are the ones who are absolutely guaranteed to consistently fail students.

    6 December 2011 at 8:03pm
  28. andrea wilson said:


    I agree with you that for some children school is the only point of stability in their lives. This is why it pains me to see some schools repeatedly fail these pupils.
    As you state your LA certainly has problems, and this is the frustration that many will have with your position, it has been unable to improve the school.
    The current management team, working with the LA, have demonstrated that they have been unable to make the necessary improvements – your solution seems to be to campaign against forced change and leave things as they are (the status quo has not worked).
    I am sure your school absolutely loves Gove’s pupil premium and the resources it will deliver.
    Your last statement is tongue in cheek in this case, as the proof is in the pudding – who have consistantly failed its students over the last few years….unfortunately “guaranteed”.

    6 December 2011 at 8:53pm
  29. andrea wilson said:

    Is there a problem with moderation on site – my response to Jane from 7.10pm last night, which only contains facts as requested, appears to be stuck in moderation.

    7 December 2011 at 5:21pm
  30. Janet said:

    As you’ve said, you know nothing about the school in question – or indeed most schools in the country – so your rhetoric of ‘consistently failed’ is quite meaningless. Really. It’s tedious and isn’t actually saying anything.

    7 December 2011 at 7:30pm

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