Thursday, June 16, 2011

Academy Status

I have a deep dark secret. Shhhh ... I shall whisper it. Come closer. No - that's too close.

(I used to be a member of the NUT).

No I am not saying it again. I am ashamed of that today because of the increasingly bizarre and hysterical reactions they are having to absolutely everything Michael Gove and the coalition government does. In Gove, plus his Ministerial team which includes Nick Gibb and Sarah Teather, I think we have one of the strongest and most professional education teams in the Commons for many years. Only Morris inspired confidence in me, as a teacher, like Gove does. OK he's not perfect - close, but not perfect - but he is leading the biggest and most overdue revolution in education since the 1960s. So clearly, when we are talking about better teaching and improved standards the NUT needs to absolutely freak out.

Take today's announcement about failing primary schools becoming academies (I may come onto the targets for schools later). Good stuff Mr Gove. I have just watched the Head of City Academy Norwich (CAN) on SkyNews saying how the extra investment, the change in ethos and the control over curriculum has taken the school up from rock bottom. I have taught 2 pupils from CAN who come to Notre Dame for lessons. Both have been incredibly bright, motivated and hard working. They thirst for discipline and challenge. So much they travelled across the City to get it somewhere else. Now they say Academy status has turned the school around and is making a real difference to their education, and to their lives. In the old days, these aspirational kids may have travelled afar to go to "better" schools. Now they are happy, settled & achieveing well in their local school - local academy.

So if Academy Status can turn around the old Earlham High - and Heartsease, and Costessey - why should it not turn around our most challenging Primary Schools. With freedom, and the right leadership, these schools can improve too. A few years back if you stood up and said that Earlham High was in the middle of the league tables you would have been laughed out of the City. Now its a reality.

Of course, our friends - brothers - in the NUT declare this is a dangerous experiment. Yes NUT, so dangerous that hundreds of schools are having their standards raised and so experimental its been around for years from the Blair government onwards. I wonder if there is ANY change in education policy that the NUT wouldn't oppose. Their scaremongoring, desperate attitude is so out of touch with the NUT members on the ground that I know.

When people ask if the Unions have a mandate to strike, I don't ask if they have achieved a certain percent in a ballot. I ask if the Union leadership looks and thinks like its membership. On this, and so many other issues, I dearly hope not.

So come on Primary Heads, where is your aspiration? This is a great challenge. We know you want to improve the education of your pupils so grab academy status with both hands and engage with the change. Look at what it has done for schools around you. No more moaning about government dictats. This is education in our hands as professionals.

If Academy Status has worked for secondary it can work for primary schools too. We need a generation of Heads who are ready for that.


Steve said...

It doesn't turn them around of course. You can't educate someone by changing a school name etc. But you certainly can finds ways to get results up - from finding alternative qualifications that are the equivalent of a few GCSEs (which the anti-intellectual and anti-education careerist management idiots in schools went along with and promoted, and wouldn't have it when you told them otherwise. Now that a serious academic study has - cough - 'discovered' that these mickey mouse qualifications aren't worth several GCSEs, those self same managers will be telling me just that and with a straight face.

Schools need educated, free thinking teachers who value intellectualism and see education as worth something in its own right. People who focus on education for a better life not for a better job. We need far fewer careerist teachers who unthinkingly go along with whatever initiative comes down the pipe. Over the last 25 years we've become a more productive, more efficient nation, but one that is less happy, less aware, less literate and less numerate. Yet results have gone up year on year LOL! And that is a savage indictment of our education system and us as teachers. But no surprise at all.

Yes, I'm a teacher. 14years.

Anonymous said...


I tend to support the principle of Acedemy status; I'm aware many of my collegues are not.

Last week I was hugely concerned at George Osborne's suugestion of abolishing national pay agreements; having 2nd class valued teachers in the regions, on top of other changes; less pay,less pension, working more, working longer, all being outstanding, less family time, less life, poor well being, just being poor and overworked. Perhaps teachers should get private banker sector bonuses if their acedemic say gets 80% 5 A*-C (Eng,Maths), or pay linked to private sector growth, profits and dividends when it arrives??

Government is taking advantage of the teachers ethic and professionalism, listening but ideological ignoring. I can see more unionisation (I'm not a union or labour supporter) and like doctors, teachers standing against coalition wright/smith like MPs. IMO the teacher corp are been driven too far by Goves, Osborne.