Poor schools face the sword of Damocles; buck up or become an Academy. If this is the salvation why aren’t the majority of schools operating as academies and why is there such a fuss over the conversion? The department of education seem hell bent on switching as many schools as possible over yet the teaching resources at affected schools tend to resist the move at all costs.
Michael Gove, secretary of state for education is to brandish a new sword and forcibly remove school governors based at a failing school who resist the conversion to become an academy. Around 200 schools are in his sights. And he is not stopping there. He also intends to take on 10 local educational authorities who have a high number of failing primary schools.
The transfer of education into a quasi-commercial standing holds some merit. If bound by the need to make a “profit” through the achievements of the school the convention of religiously following the dictat of the DfE could be tempered by the mission of the individual school. How long have we heard of educational initiatives which have introduced operational chaos before being abandoned.
Maybe the reluctance of some schools reflects the nervousness of teachers to convert to the isolation of independent management. The real world operates in the face of growing competition and a primary function of our academia is to prepare children for adult life. Greater freedom for schools in this quest must be a good thing. It generates the features and benefits of the school that will attract the future client base through the brand image of the Academy.
Teaching staff must also match the task presenting the opportunity to maintain quality by weeding out poor teachers. Unfettered by over protective terms and conditions this must grant the Head teacher the ability to hire and fire staff. Maintaining the employment of a poor teacher is a dreadful slight on the children he or she is teaching.
Michael Gove may not be the most popular Educational secretary. But his proposals, providing they are part of a well thought out strategy; a first for someone in this position, could be a real winner. Breaking the mould takes a brave man. If future academies and free schools prove to be the making of our educational system, and not just a recessionary cost cutting exercise, we could see a remarkable boost to our schooling in a hugely competitive global market.