Academies Rocking The Educational Boat

News / September 30, 2015

The start up trauma surrounding Academies just  gets worse. Originally perceived as a means of giving schools freedom from the rigid control and bureaucracy of the Department for Education (DfE) there have numerous instances where concern over the quality of education has led to ongoing conflict with the the DfE.

It was perhaps inevitable that certain commercial operations would view academies as a profit opportunity. The service content that of educational excellence becoming secondary to the need to achieve a healthy bottomline. In a similar trend to many nursing homes groups, they expanded beyond their core competence and found the operating costs and service level a tight balancing act.

Many academies have floundered requiring addition support from the DfE in a role quite the reverse of that intended. Concerns have been raised by teachers, OFSTED, and parents that all was not well. But yet the problems still arise. The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) has now expanded to operate 41 schools. A recent in depth review by Deloitte has revealed TKAT is substantially at odds with the DfE describing the relationship as “classically dysfunctional”.

The analysis of key management has received scant acceptance by TKAT of the report with none of the critical recommendations being adopted. There is an overwhelming concern that the group has expanded too quickly. This has placed extra pressure on the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC’s) who were responsible for the creation and operation of academies.

But the rot does not stop there. Teachers in the TKAT academies are being coerced through pressure from senior management into falsely improving exam results to swell performance in order to warrant expansion plans.

There is a sickness endemic in this situation. The grand plan of the previous Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, must see him weeping at the sight of how his educational dream is collapsing. Whether it is salvageable is debatable, it could it be the energy required to effectively control and correct this situation is not available and schools could pass back into the hands of educational authorities. If this is the outcome we will have witnessed a travesty of education that will have achieved little and negatively impacted on thousands of students.

By Alistair Owens


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