'Bad teaching' hampers academies

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The Independent Online

The Government's flagship academies programme is being hampered by bureaucracy, bad teachers and overly-powerful unions, according to a report for the think-tank Reform.

In Academies: a model education?, the first report from within one of the multi-million pound new schools, Richard Tice, chairman of governors at Northampton Academy – one of the first 15 schools to open – argues that all schools could see similar improvements if only the Government would allow them the same freedoms.

He called for union powers to be curbed so schools can set teachers' pay and crack down on ineffective teacher and for the abolition of appeals panels to give schools the ultimate authority to expel disruptive pupils.

Northampton's £27m academy replaced a struggling comprehensive where just 19 per cent of pupils achieved five good GCSE passes, truancy was 15 per cent and there were empty places. Since the new academy opened in 2004, GCSEs have improved, truancy has fallen by a third and there are now almost three applications for every place. Michael Gove, the Conservative children's spokes-man, said the report showed the importance of freedoms for academies and accused Gordon Brown of undermining them "for ideological reasons".

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the suggestion that union protection should be ditched was "mindless and offensive".