Your views about academies

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  i.wilson 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #11054

    i.wilson
    Keymaster

    In my replies, I am just expressing some points to challenge your thinking – these are not necessary my own views.

    • This topic was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  i.wilson.
    • This topic was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  i.wilson.
  • #11125

    Arthur Green
    Participant

    Academies are schools funded directly from the Government, as opposed to being funded by the local authorities. The head teacher looks after the day-to-day running of the school, however they are overseen by charitable bodies known as academy trusts.
    By schools converting to academies head teachers have more say over pay, their term times and the length of their school day. They also have the opportunity to opt out of the national curriculum. I can see that by having more control over these areas, heads would have more flexibility.
    On the other hand, academies can lead to the Government having a lack of oversight when looking at issues such as finances and public accountability. Even though they can opt out of the national curriculum they still have to follow the same rules on SEN students and exclusions whilst providing a balanced curriculum.
    From what I have read on academies there doesn’t seem to be a substantial difference in performance compared to local authority schools. I think they may be effective for those schools that are underperforming or inadequate, however for those schools that are good or outstanding I don’t believe there is that much difference in performance. However, once I have finished the course my opinion may have changed.

    • #11279

      i.wilson
      Keymaster

      In my replies, I am just expressing some points to challenge your thinking – these are not necessary my own views.

      I think your point about flexibility with the curriculum is a valid point Arthur, although I do wonder whether some schools might take this to the extreme and we start to have primary schools which are similar to secondary schools which are specialising in certain subjects, for example a primary school which specialises in the arts. How would this impact on the choice of primary schools which parents want their children to go to. Also – is it turning primary education more into a consumer market, in a similar way as higher education/universities are.

      • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  i.wilson.
      • #11382

        Arthur Green
        Participant

        I think you’re right that academies could lead to primary schools specialising in specific subjects. This is a concern as it could potentially lead to other core subjects not being concentrated on enough, thereby narrowing their studying. For example, science may be further side-lined.
        I also think this is limiting the amount of choices parents have when they decide on which schools they wish their children to go to. If a small local school suddenly becomes an academy and specialises in certain subjects then parents in that village may have to travel much further to take their child to the school they want them to attend.
        I do think that academies are just one more step towards privatising the schools. They become more business-like and I imagine the academy trusts will have more concentration on making a profit rather than the children’s education.

        • #11395

          i.wilson
          Keymaster

          So far, all the academies I have encountered are doing something very positive, although these tend to be associated with well established trusts. Some of the smaller schools are then joining bigger trusts and I just hope that these smaller schools do not completely lose their identities and ‘appeal’.
          I do sometimes worry that academies ‘could’ under certain management discriminate against both children and teachers. I’m hoping that this remains just a worry.

  • #11258

    Ella
    Participant

    Due to academies having more freedom to decide certain things which they believe will work best for their institution, I think that they are brilliant in the sense that they will be able to allocate more money to certain areas that they feel are necessary, as opposed to the local authority allocating certain amounts of money to certain areas of the institution. For example, academies are able to control more things such as their own curriculum, finances and term length.
    Depending on the Ofsted rating of the academy, this will have an impact on the type of sponsor that a certain academy can get. Academies want to be externally sponsored in order to try and get more money. A business, university or charity would usually sponsor an academy. But, it is a lot easier for those academies that are ranked as ‘Outstanding’ to get more funding, due to the reputation of the institution and therefore the ‘better’ sponsors will want to sponsor them. However, by allowing private companies, such as businesses to sponsor academies could be damaging and could potentially result in privatising the education system. As a result of this, this could potentially drive talented teachers away from wanting to teach at state schools, as they are motivated by the promises of significantly higher pay, as opposed to doing the same job at a slightly lower pay.
    Not only do academies offer teachers higher pay but also more flexibility, in terms of what they choose to teach, as opposed to strictly sticking to the national curriculum. Teachers are able to deviate and can adjust their lessons according to their children’s needs and interests, which would be difficult if the institution was not an academy.
    However, I can more than appreciate that parents may be reluctant to send their children/child to an academy as they aren’t overseen by the local authority and therefore don’t have the same sort of accountability that a local-authority-funded school would have. This would be a significant issue, if a parent wanted to file a complaint against their child’s academy, as the local authority would not have the power to investigate the issue.

    • #11286

      i.wilson
      Keymaster

      In my replies, I am just expressing some points to challenge your thinking – these are not necessary my own views.

      Some really valid points Ella – I do agree which relating lessons to children’s interests although I would challenge you that this is difficult within non academies. Often this is down to the determination and motivation of the teacher.

      As for pay – yes this is often a point which is raised about academies. It does concern me that non qualified teachers could be employed to teach within academies and that pay increases could be withheld.

  • #11317

    Emily Sutton
    Participant

    Academies are schools which rely on funding directly from the government and are run by academy trusts. The trust has staff that visit/inspect all the academies in the academy chain individually to make sure things are running as they should. When academies first became present they were introduced to try and improve failing schools however, today this is not the case and any school (failing or successful) can be given academy status.
    As others have said, the money that academies receive is higher than non-academy schools and I think that this acts as one of the advantages of these types of schools. There is also the factor that head teachers can make more decisions on their own without the need to confer with government bodies. This can be seen in both a positive way and a negative way. A positive of this is that due to the increased freedom of the head teachers they can decide themselves on which departments money can be spent on and target certain areas that need money. However, looking at it from the other side of the spectrum academies have the disadvantage of heads being able to alter the curriculum as it means that they can cut specific subjects from being taught at their school. This can result in teachers losing their jobs and students missing out on certain the ‘non-core’ subjects such as music, drama and art. Overall, I think that academies are good in sense that they provide more money to schools which the head can then decide how/where to spend, but I also think that due to the freedom allowed with the curriculum that this type of school can result in students missing out on certain subjects.

    • #11402

      i.wilson
      Keymaster

      Some very valid points Emily – I completely agree about the foundation subjects and the possibility of these being reduced or even removed.
      Do you think, with so much of the ‘power’ resting with the trust and the headteacher that schools could start to discriminate against groups of children and teachers?

  • #11333

    Eleanor Palmer
    Participant

    Academies do allow the head teacher of the school more control as the LEA (Local Education Authority) has lost its power. I some ways, this can be a positive as the decisions are being mad by those involved in the day – to -day running of the schools, therefore, the most well informed people. An example of this could be funding that is received by the school, someone external to the school may look at a national trend of schools lacking in sports equipment and make the judgement that this is where the money should be spent. In reality, a more pressing issue could be the lack of writing equipment, in an academy, an important decision such as one related to funding would be made by the most well informed person or group of people ensuring that the funding is used in the most appropriate way. Furthermore, with schools able to move away from the constraints of the National Curriculum if they so wish, parents are given more choice when selecting a school for their child. If all schools are equally constrained in what and how they teach, parents and children are also limited in terms of choice.
    However, this increased freedom can mean that schools stray away from teaching some aspects of the curriculum while paying particular attention to other parts. This may mean that the students do not get such a balanced education. This can be accentuated through the funding freedom, offered by academies, schools can choose to develop or ‘specialise’ in certain areas of the curriculum while other parts are overlooked.

    • #11409

      i.wilson
      Keymaster

      Valid points Eleanor. Do you think it is a good idea to allow schools to deviate from the National Curriculum? Originally the curriculum was designed to ensure that the children were provided a balanced curriculum in both time and topics as well as being taught knowledge which was ‘suitable’ for that stage of development.
      Is there a danger of schools/trusts/teachers deviating so much from this core curriculum that it makes children moving schools very difficult due to content which they have missed or schools spending too much time on certain subjects and/or topics?

  • #11348

    Steph Secker
    Participant

    There are several differences between the running of academies against regular state schools. For example an academy receives funding directly from the government instead of local councils and other authorities. Whilst state schools are required to follow the national curriculum put into place by the government, academies do not have to. They also have the freedom to set their own term times.
    This flexibility could be seen as a positive aspect of academies as it allows the head of school to decide the subjects that they would like to promote as they are not restricted to following the national curriculum. This allows the headteacher to promote and select subjects that could benefit a larger majority of students. For example they could promote a focus on creative arts subjects (performing arts, art, music etc) combined with core subjects to allow all students to learn in the ways that are best for them. They can also allocate what they feel are the appropriate funds to each subject or parts of the school. On the other hand some head teachers might not feel that creative arts subjects are as important as core subjects and cut funding from those areas to spend in others. Despite this freedom, academies still have to provide a balanced curriculum and follow the rules on exclusions and SEN students provided for state schools.
    However, it can be argued that there are some negative aspects to academies. Academies try to earn sponsors and support from charities, businesses and universities. These sponsors are more likely to support and fund academies of a higher Ofsted rating. This could make it difficult for academies of a lower standard to receive sponsors meaning that it is more difficult for them to improve their institution and receive a “Good” or “Outstanding” rating from Ofsted. Furthermore, as Ella previously suggested in her post, the increase in sponsors of academies by private companies could risk privatisation of the education system. This would have an affect on state schools as some teachers would opt for the higher paid jobs in academies.
    I also agree with both Arthur and Ella on their points about public accountability. It would be more difficult for a parent to file a complaint against the academy as no local authority could support them in their investigation due to the fact that they do not oversee the school.
    Overall, I believe that the flexibility given to the head teacher of an academy could be very useful and, if used correctly, could promote a wide range of subjects and skills to many children, helping them learn and develop more. However there is always a risk of the extra money received not being spread out properly over a wide range of subjects (e.g. just being spent on core subjects as they are deemed the most important) meaning that some students could miss out.

    • #11418

      i.wilson
      Keymaster

      A detailed response Steph – you have certainly presented a range of valid points.
      Money is, sadly, a factor in education and that money is used for a range of items within the school budget from the headteacher’s salary to the buying of pencils. Do you think that headteacher’s have the skills to financially control and make decisions about budgets? Yes, before you point it out, a lot of the budges are controlled by a central trust which has people on their panel who have these financial skills but then I wonder about their understanding of pedagogy and education. When it comes to finalising the budget at the end of the year, do you think trusts would always favour the children’s education or be willing to make people redundant or withhold pay increases in order to make the books balance?

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