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3rd December 2008

5th Annual Report On Academies

The 5th annual report on academies has been published by PriceWaterhouseCooper. While the government are trumpeting success, the report raises a number of concerns:

Some Academies have used government funds to establish subsidiary companies.

The government is failing to account for the money private sponsors are allocated.

The number of children from deprived backgrounds accepted into Academies has fallen.

The application of 'Fair Banding' raises problems for the most vulnerable families.

The exclusions on Academies are higher than other schools.

There are concerns about Academy admissions procedures.

Academies employ more teachers without Qualified Teacher Status than other schools.

The report suggests there is 'insufficient evidence' to make a definitive judgement about the academies as a model for school improvement.

Commenting on PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report on Academies, Christine Blower, Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

Despite the Government's spin, the report clearly states that there is insufficient evidence that Academies are a model for school improvement. Indeed, I am amazed that Ofsted, which is supposed to be responsible for defining school improvements, was not asked to do PWC's job.

All the features that PWC identify as positive in relation to Academies have little to do with the so-called 'Academy effect' and everything to do with headhunting, significantly increased resources compared with those of other schools, and flexibilities allowed to teachers that should be enjoyed at all schools.

Yet it is also extraordinary that PWC report that the proportion of pupils from socially deprived backgrounds should have declined in Academies in comparison with other schools, despite the avowed focus of Academies targeting those pupils. In addition, exclusions are much higher than those in other schools.

Underneath the headline to their report, PWC publish a range of significant recommendations including important ones on school admissions. I urge the Government to try and stand back from its own perceived need to hold on to an initiative which is quite clearly going off the rails, and stop the Academies programme. The focus needs to be on strategies which will genuinely help children from socially deprived backgrounds, rather than feeding a burgeoning two-tier system.

 

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