Leading Article: Academies could be divisive

The educational establishment is strongly opposed to the Education Secretary Michael Gove's invitation to all state schools in Britain to become academies, which amounts to the biggest shake-up in the way schools are run since 1902. They dislike the fact that academies are outside local authority control, arguing that this will make them much less accountable than mainstream state schools, and they claim that the move to grant academy status to high-performing schools will create a highly divided school system.

Gove now wants all schools rated "outstanding" by the education standards watchdog, Ofsted, to be fast-tracked to academy status. This changes the original concept of Tony Blair's academies, the schools that began life in 2000 as a way to turn round failing schools. In those days, schools were given new names, extra freedoms, new buildings and more cash from a sponsor in the hope that they would transform themselves. And some of them did. The academies in the east London borough of Hackney are an example of what can be done by a group of energetic and committed people who combined with the town hall to think up a borough-wide plan to tap the available money. Mossbourne in Hackney is a stunning example of what can be achieved, given the cash and the drive. Its GCSE pass rate (grades A* to C) has now reached 85 per cent. Not all academies have been so successful.

The latest figures show that academies are improving at a faster rate than the average state school, though it is not known whether that success is down to the extra money they receive or enthusiastic teachers or the freedoms they enjoy. Academies can award bonuses to staff and pay their head teachers more. Because they are not under local authority control, academies are subject to less red tape and have more control over their budgets. We believe most good schools respond to being freed up from local authority control, so we welcome Mr Gove's initiative. But we would argue that academy status is not essential to turning a lacklustre school round.

What appears to be important is that a school has clear direction from an effective head teacher and the support of families who are interested in education. And there's the rub. The Government cannot force parents to choose academies for their children. Many won't bother and it is their children who will end up in the "sink schools". The critics have a point. With more and more schools becoming academies, the local authority schools will be shunned by sharp-elbowed parents, leaving them with declining reputations and their pupils with a deteriorating education.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Supply teachers required for secondary schools in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

English Teacher - January

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: English Teacher A Hull school i...

Humanities Teacher - January

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Humanities, Religious Education ...

Science Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - South Es...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?