Ofsted give damning report into Birkdale High School Academy

UNISON press release


Today Ofsted have released their report to parents of their findings into Birkdale High School Academy.  Just 4 months into their Academy status the school has been deemed to be “Inadequate with Special Measures.”


Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector is of the opinion that this school requires special measures because it is failing to give it pupils an  acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.


UNISON Branch Officer, Jonathan Allan said:


“This is an extremely worrying report for everybody concerned with Birkdale High, parents, pupils and staff.   Even more worrying because it is without precedent, this is the first of Michael Goves Academy convertor schools to fail in the North West.  Because there is no natural hierarchy, as in a Local Authority, it is Michael Gove who will decide what action needs to be taken.  In the past he has said that if an Academy should fail, the school “will get a new sponsor.” ie: a private company,  Birkdale High currently doesn’t have a sponsor.  This leaves it vulnerable to having one imposed upon it.


This could have consequences for the other schools in Sefton who have converted.  Many of these education businesses are backed by venture capitalists that are acquisitive by nature and would want to operate a chain and are undemocratic and not transparent and have not direct relation to the communities they serve.  In fact they are encouraged to do so by Gove.  We would then have the unedifying state of affairs of our young people’s education being determined by the market.  This is a truly appalling state of affairs.”


All schools in England are now being encouraged by the government to apply to become academies. Academies are schools with no local links to the community or the council, but funded by the taxpayer. In effect, they are state funded private schools.  Once a local school has become an academy, there is no way back into the local education system and no voice of the community, only the imposition of sponsors by the government which take away the democratic process of governors.


UNISON has grave concerns about the fragmentation and privatisation of our school system and campaigned long and hard with other local organisations to oppose these seven Sefton  schools converting to academies.


UNISON Regional Organiser, Paula Williams said:


“ The people who allowed this failing school to become an Academy and thus opting out of the control and accountability of the Local Authority need to be held to account for that decision. This proves that allowing school to adopt Academy Status does not mean a better education for our children”. She went on to say ”this is a very difficult time for both parents and staff who do not know what will happen next”

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2 Responses to Ofsted give damning report into Birkdale High School Academy

  1. Jane says:

    The Funding Agreement is normally for 7 years in the first instance. However, this does not mean that the school has the choice to revert to becoming a maintained school. One of the ways of breaking the Funding Agreement is if the Academy Trust mismanages the finances. However, the recent bail out by the Government of several academies indicates that they will protect the Funding Agreements at all costs.

    For an academy to revert to being a maintained school, it would presumably require the agreement of the Local Authority. The majority of the converter academies (in the first wave) were in Conservative controlled authorities – unlikely to go against their bosses.

    Unfortunately, the Funding Agreement for Birkdale does not appear to be on the DfE website, so I can’t check if there are any specific variations from the norm.

  2. steve White says:

    Academy schools can become LA schools after seven years if there is an LA still standing after its undermining by the government. The more academies there are, the less effective the LA becomes because of the amount of money top-sliced to start up academies. Perhaps we need to start campaigning to allow schools that have converted to come back to the LA after 1 year or 2 years? If we don’t there will be nowhere for failing academies to go except for new sponsors and new personnel under the same failing structure.

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