Michael Gove has announced his response to the Trojan Horse reports. Schools, including academies, will face no notice inspections and will be obliged to promote ‘British values’. Ofsted’s chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw says the affected schools declined suddenly and therefore he has confidence in both the former ‘outstanding’ judgements and now the ‘special measures’ judgement. But can parents have confidence in Ofsted?
The AAA is concerned that Gove & Wilshaw’s actions are fuelling Islamophobia. This issue and the rise of UKIP (see below) have thrown up important issues that we will focus on in our next National Steering Committee on Saturday 28th June to be held in central London. Keep an eye on our website www.antiacademies.org.uk or make sure you’re on our mailing list and we’ll send you details.
After a series of controversies involving privately run inspection firms, Ofsted is seeking to return inspections in-house. However such joined up thinking has not reached the Department of Health where they are consulting on outsourcing council children’s services. Could it be that as one door closes for the profiteers another is opening?
Meanwhile UKIP is calling for a grammar school in every town; strange we never hear that call for more secondary moderns. Is there a pattern of politicians – of all parties – calling for systems which they argue will assist the ‘bright but poor’? Surely all children, whatever their academic strength or socio-economic background, deserve to be taught together in excellent locally accountable schools.
Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Greens says that the competitive market in schooling has failed. She said that while competition between providers may work in a widget factory but competition brings chaos to families, children and communities.
The impact of competition is felt keenly in Redditch at the moment. One of the town’s converter academies – Tudor Grange – plans to change its age range from 13-18 to 11-18; disrupting the intake of other local schools. Parent Sharon Harvey said Tudor Grange Academy is “acting as a business and not in the interests of Redditch”, adding “our three-tier system is really successful at the moment: all our schools are getting great results.” Messages of support or offers of help can be directed to the facebook group ‘Redditch School Changes’.
It looks like local campaigning may have saved the day for parents, staff and children at Sulivan Primary school in Hammersmith and Fulham. The newly elected Labour council there has said it will review the Tory’s decision to close this popular and successful primary to make way for a free school.
Students and their families at Nottingham’s Sherwood E-Act Academy are facing more upheaval as their school now faces closure. A second trust – Redhill, brought in when E-Act ‘handed back’ 10 of its academies – has said it will move the students to another of their academies.
The autonomy myth of Gove’s academies was blown open by the departing headteacher of successful converter Wymondham College. Melvyn Roffe told the Eastern Daily Press that the school became an academy for more autonomy but ‘what happened was the reverse. We have had more control from central government rather than local government.’
Campaigns against academies and free schools continue all over the country. Students at Crown Woods School in Eltham, South East London, walked out on 3 June against academy conversion plans The students bravely stood their ground and explained to governors why they wanted to be educated in a community school.