As schools are forced to be academies, the will of the people means nothing

Saturday morning, and Stevenage appears to be bracing itself for a riot. Police cars block off road after road. Sirens scythe the air. Officers hurry about in hi-vis. And at the eye of this storm is not some motley crew of furious insurgents, but hundreds of children and mums and dads, marching last weekend to save the school they love.

“We are a small town and we aren’t used to staging demonstrations,” says councillor Josh Bennett Lovell, which explains both the law-and-order overkill and the bright-eyed kids enjoying all the excitement of a big day out. Only when the marchers hit the town square does the carnival spirit give way to speeches highlighting the seriousness of their situation.

Should these fighters lose, on Friday the Barclay school will be handed over to an academy trust based 35 miles away in central London that has, they say, barely shown its face at the secondary, let alone talked to staff or parents. That will be despite months of protest by the head and governors, a series of strikes by teachers, packed meetings with worried locals, and parents and children taking to the streets. Into the mic roars Pete Hawkins: “We want to work with a partner, not have a dictatorship come in!”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/30/britain-schools-conversion-academies-eu

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Academisation and Progress 8 – the twin drivers of educational failure

Progress 8 was supposed to be a fair measure of secondary school ‘effectiveness’. New research confirms that it is seriously biased against schools with more disadvantaged pupils. It is vital to expose this injustice because scoring ‘well below average’ on Progress 8 triggers consequences such as an early Ofsted, forced academisation or transfer to a more ruthless MAT. Poor Progress 8 scores can also lead to families avoiding schools they assume to be of poor quality.

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‘It’s a dictatorship.’ Angry parents fight back against school takeovers

It’s like living in a dictatorship,” fumes Peter Hawkins, reflecting on the situation facing the school that he and generations of his family have attended. “There’s no way of knowing what’s going on, or of communicating with the people making the decision. We have no say in the future of our children’s school. It’s disgusting.”

On Friday the school in question, the Barclay school, Stevenage, is set to join Future Academies, the chain founded and chaired by the Tory peer, party donor and former academies minister, Lord Nash.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jan/24/its-a-dictatorship-angry-parents-fight-back-against-school-takeovers

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Bail out grants to Academies over £6 million

The amount given in ‘exceptional grants’ to academies to stabilise their accounts in the financial year 2018/19 was nearly twice as much as originally reported, the Department for Education has admitted*.

Earlier this week I reported that £3.5m was paid out in exceptional grants to academies in 2018/19 (see here and here).  But the DfE has told me that due to a ‘technical error’ I was sent an incomplete spreadsheet.  The full amount was just over £6m.

Academies bailed were:

https://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2019/01/exclusive-bail-out-grants-to-academies-nearly-twice-as-much-as-previously-reported

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School league tables: The best and worst-performing MATs, and other findings

New figures published by the government today reveal how well the country’s multi-academy trusts are performing.

The Department for Education’s MAT league tables rank chains based on their progress scores and other metrics recorded in last summer’s GCSEs.

The data covers 85 trusts with three or more schools that have been with them for at least three years.

Here’s what we found.

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