Leading Article: Academic doubts

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The clear message to emerge from last week's Commons select committee hearing on academies is that the staff in these new independently-run schools have growing doubts about the Government's commitment to them.

One of the complaints is that the wings of the proponents of academies have been clipped by the need to get local authority approval for any new academy proposals. They should not worry on this score. Recent months have shown that it is difficult for an academy to thrive when it doesn't have the support of the community.

Riots, for example, broke out at Richard Rose academy in Carlisle, where parents, pupils and staff became disenchanted with the school. The fears of academy proponents, however, were fuelled by last week's White Paper on education because it contained no mention of developing the strategy on academies.

You would expect such an important strategic document to contain more about the Government's vision on the subject if ministers were keen on the programme. It looks as though the reformist zeal brought to the academies initiative by former Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has vanished from the current ministerial team, something the Conservatives are bound to seize on in the forthcoming general election campaign.