Confessions of a Political Animal

November 14, 2008

Academies: selecting for easy success

Inside the Ashcroft-Vardy Creationist Academy for Boys (formerly the Plato Academy)

Inside the Ashcroft-Vardy Creationist Academy for Boys (formerly the Plato Academy)

In September The Animal wrote about the increasing lack of local authority control over secondary schools in London partially as a consequence of the inexorable march of academies, particularly in the most deprived boroughs.

Part of my concern about this was the deep-seated worry, expressed well by Fiona Millar here, that academies have far too much independence in terms of their selection policies for a state-funded school and are becoming increasingly well versed in finding ways around what rules they do have to abide to keep ‘difficult’ students out. An unwillingness to take children with statements of special educational needs and a tendency towards very high rates of expulsions (8.7 per 1000 pupils in 2006-07 compared to 3.2 per 1000 in comparable community schools) are examples of this. If you (more…)

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September 9, 2008

The Fallacy of School Choice

Schools under Local Authority control in London

Last week, the English education system arrived at an historic, yet rather under-reported juncture. The Southwark News reported that its borough had become the first local authority in the country which would have no schools, either primary or secondary, under its own control. As of Monday 1st September, when Geoffrey Chaucer Technology College became the Globe Academy, under the control of ARK Schools, each of Southwark’s schools is either an academy, foundation school or voluntary aided school, with at the very least the opportunity to set its own admission code.

Of course, this arises from the government’s mantra of diversifying the provision of education, with a particular focus on the secondary sector. Or in other words – the mantra of ‘choice’ which has been (more…)

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