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← Three Developments in British Education

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Stephen of Wimbledon

In précis:

Academies are state-maintained but independently-run schools with outside sponsors. They have more freedoms than schools under local authority control and therefore, it is argued, are subject to less bureaucracy and have more freedom over their budgets. They also differ from mainstream schools by what they teach - but only because an academy must specialise in an area (languages, art & media, science, technology & design, etc.). Outstanding schools (as judged by the schools regulator - Ofsted) that become academies do not need to be sponsored by outside organisations, which represents a major change in the funding system.

The plan is that current, local authority run, schools will convert to academies. The essential change is the loss of direct local authority control over schools. Many local authorities are joining consortia to convert schools in their area to academies - thus maintaining significant influence.

Last time I looked, of the 24,000 schools in England, only ~200 were academies.

Free schools are set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts, religious or voluntary groups, but funded directly by central government. Of the 323 applications received by September 2011, 115 were from faith groups.

So, I hear you ask, is there a difference between free schools and academies?

Essentially no. Most free schools will be established as academies. The free schools programme will give parents and teachers the chance to create a wholly new school if they are unhappy with state schools in a particular local area (i.e. if they believe that simply turning a mainstream, local authority run, school into an academy will not get significant results). This means that many local authorities are very anti-free-schools (including my own), but positive about academies.

This suggests to me that worrying about whether academies will have the freedom to re-write the national curriculum is a waste of time. Indeed, it would appear that academies are essentially the same school system under new management - but still obliged to teach the national curriculum, including evolution and excluding non-science from science lessons.

Or did I miss something?

I'm willing to be educated.


[Sources: The Guardian and the BBC]

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 21:06:06 UTC | #946932