Chalk Talk: Roll up, roll up - if your school is not an academy yet, it soon will be

 

I must confess my visit to the Academies Show in London's Olympia left me feeling a little mischievous last week. Not sure whether it was the sharp-suited stewards ushering everybody hither and thither with a kind of discipline even new chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw could only dream of. Or maybe it was the language used by some of the speakers – "structured customer feedback" particularly stuck in the throat. (There had been no mention of children up until then.)

There's no doubt the day was a success – 4,500 schools had asked to participate and many heads could not even get into the main conference area. However, at least one said to me: "I'm only here because this is going to happen – not because I want it to."

There was an opportunity for a wry smile when the assembled heads were told academy status would give them "freedom to spend their budgets in a different way". I don't know why, but my mind went racing back to the head of the academy chain in Lincoln who ordered sex games on his academy credit card to be delivered to his office.

Thanks heavens, though, for a speech from Dr Elizabeth Sidwell of the Schools Commission, which sought to show how a good academy could improve things for the children in it.

So I'm not against academies. I just don't think they should be the only show in town and am a bit perturbed about the kind of sales-speak language that is being adopted to describe what they do. They're becoming more and more corporatist, it seems to me.

One headteacher trying to get into the conference was asked if he was with Zurich Municipal, the main sponsors. "No," he said. "You should have said yes," replied the steward. "I'd have got you in."

Back to those freedoms that they have, though. One speaker suggested they could include hiring out the school for a wedding. Maybe, but I think all those wedded to the academy movement – Messrs Blair, Miliband (D), Adonis and Gove are already married.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Optimisation Strategist / Conversion Analyst

£35 - £45k DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Optimisation Strategist is needed ...

AER Teachers: Science Teacher for Excellent SW London School

£27000 - £36000 per annum + MPS + TLR: AER Teachers: An excellent SW London Se...

AER Teachers: SENCO - SOUTH LONDON ACADEMY

£30000 - £50000 per annum: AER Teachers: A top academy in South London is invi...

AER Teachers: NQT - YEAR 1 - 'OUTSTANDING' SCHOOL

£27500 - £32000 per annum: AER Teachers: This 'Outstanding' Primary school in ...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic