Recently, the Government announced its new plans to turn every school in England into an academy by 2022. The process is called ‘academisation’.
If you haven’t yet experienced your school becoming an academy, it’s likely that you know of a friend or family member that has. In Sutton alone, 11 out of 14 mainstream secondary schools are already academies – that’s the majority.
Most of these schools converted approximately two years ago, so there is a clear trend of schools taking on the academy status in the local area, as well as the rest of the UK. The remaining three secondary schools in Sutton are currently in the process of considering converting before 2022.
Even as a pupil at an existing academy, you may not completely understand what it stands for and the real impact it has (or had) on you. That’s why we’re here – to tell you everything you need to know about academies.
Here’s a summary of what’s been happening in the news – just FYI:
The Conservative Government is making it compulsory for all schools in England to convert to academy status by 2022, as part of a “education revolution”.
The Government says by becoming academies “schools are given the freedom and flexibility they need to continue to drive up standards”. It says it aims to raise standards for all children, narrow the attainment gap between the most and least advantaged, and create a “world-beating system”.
Despite the response from teachers and parents (see what they think below), the Government has insisted there will be no retreat on plans to convert every state school in England into an academy.
What teachers think: Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) already voted to ballot for strike action after outright rejecting the Government’s controversial academies plan. They have raising concerns over the quality and accountability that academisation will cause.
What parents think: Over 1,000 mothers and fathers on Mumsnet, the online parenting forum, gave negative responses to the Government’s plans, calling them “despicable” and “utter rubbish”. They believe “forced academisation” is about taking parents out of the picture.
What do YOU think? Let’s learn what academisation is all about before you make up your mind.
WHAT IS AN ACADEMY?
Academies are independent, state-funded schools, that receive funding directly from central Government, rather than through a local education authority.
The day-to-day running of the school is with the head teacher or principal, but they are overseen by individual charitable bodies called academy trusts and may be part of an academy chain. These trusts and chains provide advice, support, expertise and a strategic overview.
The Head Teacher is still responsible for the day-to-day running of the school but they are overseen by an academy trust. Academies often work in groups and some of them also have sponsors (like businesses or religious groups).
Currently, 2,075 out of 3,381 secondary schools are academies, while 2,440 of 16,766 primary schools have academy status. That’s over 4,500 academies!
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SCHOOLS & ACADEMIES
- Academies are publicly funded schools which operate outside of local authority control
- Academies have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions
- Academies receive money which would previously have been held back by the local authority to provide extra services
- Academies do not have to follow the national curriculum. They can choose their own curriculum, as long as it is “broad and balanced”
PROs OF ACADEMISATION
- They receive additional funding from Central Government, which provides useful services such as help for children with special needs or extra-curricular activities
- They have more freedom and independence than other schools to innovate, so they can do things differently
- They often make plans to refurbish the old school building, giving students a fresh environment with extra facilities and resources
- Research shows that academy schools can deliver better GCSE performance, although this is disputed by many
CONs OF ACADEMISATION
- Excellent teachers, loved by students may decide to leave in disagreement of the new procedures put in place, which leads to an increase in supply teachers
- Due to the changes in curriculum, some students may have less choice, or be unable to choose the subject(s) they want
- Academies can become too concerned with its reputation and the pressure to perform better, rather than focus on their pupil’s education and needs
- Whilst rebranding the school into an academy, aside from the name changing, pupils / parents may have to buy new school uniforms out of their own pocket
IMPACT OF ACADEMISATION – FOR STUDENTS
School name: Your school’s name may change. The most common change is to add the word academy – so if your school was called, say for example, Hogwarts High School, it could change to Hogwarts Academy.
Lessons: There’s been lots of talk about how academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum, which gives your teachers more freedom over what you learn. You might find you are offered a different range of subjects in the future. However, academies still have to meet a lot of requirements set out by the Department for Education, and their results still go into performance tables, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see major changes.
School hours and holiday dates: Academies can set their own term times and even what time of day school starts, but in practice, many haven’t made any big changes.
School uniform: Some pupils wonder if they’ll get a new uniform but, again, many schools don’t change this (although they’ll change the logo on your uniform if the name changes).
Rules: As your school is changing, your teachers might take the opportunity to change some rules as well. However, academies have to follow the same rules on things like admissions and exclusions as other schools, and they still get inspected by Ofsted.
Free school meals: If you already get free school meals, you’ll still receive them.
Now that you’re an expert in academisation, tell us what you think about the Government’s plans. Would you be happy for your school to turn into an academy, or would you prefer for things to stay the same? Do you think that you and your fellow pupils will benefit from this scheme, or is it a barrier to reaching your ambitions?
Remember that YOU will be affected by academisation too and your education and needs are just as important as anyone else’s. As a pupil, you are extremely valuable to your school, and your opinion counts – you deserve a say on the matter.
Share your opinion with us by dropping a comment in the box below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to feature on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!
SOURCES: https://successatschool.org/blog/487/What-will-happen-when-my-school-becomes-an-academy%3F http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10161371 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3511643/Government-plans-make-schools-academies-branded-despicable-online-parenting-forum-Mumsnet.html http://www.expressandstar.com/education/2016/04/05/poll-should-all-schools-become-academies/