Does Academy = better academic results?

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So Your School’s Turning into an Academy…

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As I am sure you all know now, the government has announced plans to turn every school in England into an academy by 2022. However, what does this mean for those with teacher and teaching assistants jobs and will the academies be a good thing for students and others in the education community?

Giving more control to head teachers will mean the school can decide how much to pay their staff, what approach to take to the curriculum, and the amount of training and support their staff will receive. This should mean that the requirements of the pupils and the needs of the teachers are better addressed, as they can be tailored towards each school. After all, head teachers were teachers once too, and this knowledge and experience should be prioritised over that of the local authority workers who lack actual experience working in a school.   

Of course, an academy is only as good as the leaders who manage it and some teachers in this recent article have described the problems that can arise during the significant transition into an academy. Changes in pay, longer school days and a complete overhaul of a school’s teaching ethos are hard things to juggle even for the best senior leaders. On the other hand, the right leaders will put more emphasis on the needs of the teachers so that their workload will be considered with any new changes to the running of the school. For example, many academies offer extra PPA time for teachers in comparison to state-run schools. In addition, having more control of the school means decisions can be made quickly without going through as much red tape, so when problems with the school are recognised the leaders can act immediately to rectify them.

Despite the extra freedoms an academy school has over its expenditure and its approach to education, you cannot expect academies to have as much free reign as they are legally allowed to have. Decision makers can now choose which subjects they teach which is great, right? But the more vocational subjects and less popular options may not be chosen by schools as even if they might benefit the pupils they are not likely to benefit the school’s standing in the league tables or its popularity with parents. Furthermore, you cannot forget the growing number of multi-academy trusts that will be opening plenty more schools under the new system. These chains may be led and managed and owned by governors and CEOs who know their stuff, but as each individual school will be subject to the chain’s governors the individual head teachers might not have as much say as they would like about how their school is managed and they’re the ones with first-hand knowledge of that specific school. Take funding for example, as all the funding goes to the centre, and it is the trustees of the MAT or their teams who distribute it, they have to ensure the right amount of funding goes to the right school which would be hard to do without actually working at the school.

In order to get funding, all schools that are not considered ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted will need to have sponsorship from a private company, trust or charity. Originally academies were sponsored by exciting businesses who could help manage the school but had no real stake in the education. However, with the ever-increasing numbers of academies comes a lacking in sponsors. As Mike Cameron writes in his blog Building Trust, he feels the regulations about who and who cannot become a sponsor is unclear, describing the need for tighter legal frameworks to ensure that trustee to trust financial transactions do not happen. He goes on to describe how funding systems should be the same for all schools, voicing concerns about the lack of clarity over what happens to the land and buildings when it becomes part of an MAT, especially if it then fails gets moved to another trust.

So, although the idea of giving head teachers and other experts in education more control of schools makes a lot of sense and many things will be improved with the new academy system, some people in the education community feel that there is still some way to go when it comes to developing the rules and regulations that will govern all schools once they are turned into academies.

 

This article was written by a guest write’ Declan Spinks editor of the EduStaff blog. EduStaff are a specialist education recruitment consultancy who only focus on long-term, permanent recruitment for primary, secondary and SEN schools across the UK. They are also the recruitment partners of Premier Pathways, a new and unique graduate scheme that helps graduates get into teaching while offering them paid in-school experience.   


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