ACADEMIES, LOCALISM AND DEMOCRACY
For many years I have been a teacher advisor for Cambridgeshire County Council (our L.E.A) and have been to numerous meetings with councillors and officials. I have found that all of them (including the ruling conservatives) take their responsibilities seriously and try and do their best for the counties’ pupils and students. One example of this in a local Fenland secondary school a few years ago was when it was judged to have a “serious weakness” from Ofsted. This was a community school controlled by the L.E.A. Within a year the head teacher was replaced without any negative publicity to the school or to the man who was the head teacher. A few years later another Fenland secondary school failed its Ofsted and had a very large financial deficit. This secondary school had become grant maintained in the 1980’s and was now a foundation school which meant the LEA did not control it. In order to replace the head teacher the LEA had to ask the Ministry of Education to sack the governing body so that the LEA could form a new governing body in order to replace the head teacher. All this had to be done in the public eye and negative publicity for the school.
Now with academies the LEA has hardly any influence at all!
Only the governing body of a school and the government can decide if a school becomes an academy. There should be a vote of people in the schools catchment area or at least the parents in the school. There are financial incentives to becoming academies but these are diminishing as more become academies and schools will still have to buy in services that were previously provided by the LEA.
Mr Gove, the education minister, says that academies can design their own curriculum but if a school wants to be higher up in the school league tables they will have to follow Mr Goves “Baccalaureate” of five compulsory subjects.
Nearly all the secondary schools in Cambridgeshire are or are about to become academies. Ask your local county councillor what he will be able to do if there is a problem in an academy. The answer will be ----- nothing!
Brian Chadwick, Cambridgeshire NUT