The role of the Secretary of State for Education will be downgraded to that of watchdog sitting alone in a cupboard with an iPad, a pen and a huge exercise book headed ‘Where it all went wrong.’
Instead of the massive overhaul to revitalise our educational programme to meet the needs of modern society we appear to handing all over to third parties. ‘Nothing to do with us’ written all over it, it will be down to the strength of the academies to develop the world-class system our children deserve, and the UK desperately needs. But there are precious few headteachers that will have the drive and ability to successfully transfer and thrive. Similarly there are examples of academy groups that have failed commercially
The scaremongers have already muted; is this a bridge too far? The privatisation programme in other industries and utilities has done little to convince that such a privatisation initiative works. It may well relieve a government department of responsibility but also provides a massive profit opportunity with little investment from the franchisee.
The absence of a National Curriculum is beneficial in allowing schools and teachers to adopt the lesson content and teaching styles that are more progressive, stimulating and suited to local employment. But at the same time there is risk. So many teachers have been brainwashed towards the National Curriculum and OFSTED that the sudden freedom may be akin to the urban fox realised into the alien wild. Its immediate need is to try find a MacDonald’s for food.
There is a supreme effort needed by the new academies is to establish a new curriculum, amass the ideal teaching crew and hit ‘commercial’ targets for performance. This may be extraordinarily difficult. The quantity of teachers able to thrive in the new regime may be desperately short of the numbers needed. Like a top-flight football team the best team will emerge with the cream of players going to the highest bidder. And in the middle of this change chaos we need children educated to thrive in a market that will have changed massively during their own educational journey. Industries and jobs will exist that were not there when they started. Will our academies be able to respond to such changes or focus on achieving the best with what they’ve got. Again the analogy with the privatised power companies; investment has been poor, we are struggling with old power stations, green energy subsidies have been shelved and the best deal is to reply on China to build new nuclear power stations for us.
What we have is broken and needs fixing but the risk with the proposed strategy and the sudden demands on teachers and head teachers may not provide the educational improvement across the board we desperately need.