Status a first class idea
IN THE last week or so, there has been some reporting and discussion regarding academy status for schools.
Unfortunately, some of what has been written is misleading or, in some cases, misrepresents my views. So I thought I would use this week’s column to set out some facts.
In North Yorkshire, we are fortunate to have some good schools but we also have some under-performing schools. As the MP for this area, I want to see every child get the best possible education.
I have no issue whether that education is provided by an academy, a local authority school, a private school or a church school. In my view, if there is one under-performing school, it is one too many.
The last Labour government introduced the academies programme and the coalition government has expanded it because it believes that teachers and head teachers, not politicians and bureaucrats, should control schools and have more power over how they are run in the best interests of their students.
When Labour left office, there were 203 academies in the UK. There are now 2106 academies across the country, responsible for educating over 1.7 million pupils.
Many critics, including no doubt those quoted in this newspaper, said academies would not deliver the promised academic improvements with some saying that standards would decline. Yet, the facts tell a different story.
In the 166 sponsored academies with results in both 2010 and 2011, the percentage point increase in pupils achieving 5+ A*- C including English and Maths was almost double that of maintained schools.
With clear evidence showing that the academy programme has had a good effect on school standards, I find it surprising that some appear to object to under-performing schools considering investigating the academy programme.
Academies have the freedom to buy in the best, most cost-effective services depending on the needs of their pupils. Many academies are continuing to work with their local authorities where the local authority provides the best service available.
In North Yorkshire, the number of schools who have applied or already converted to academy status is roughly a third that of the current national average.
There appears to be a lack of encouragement from NYCC for schools to consider academy status, which is disappointing given the facts around improvement.
However, I was interested to read an email to another North Yorkshire MP from a head teacher this week which stated “Please reassure Mr Gove that there are some forward looking schools in North Yorkshire that have indeed recognised the vital role that academies can play in raising standards across the county and beyond.”
I want the best possible education outcome for every child in the Selby area, regardless of background or postcode. Given that the evidence is that such autonomy does lead to an increase in standards, it is something that in my view,school leadership teams and governing bodies should at least explore seriously.
However, I am clear that the decision on whether to become an academy for the vast majority of schools is a decision for the school to make in the best interests of its pupils.
Selby and Ainsty MP
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Weather for Selby
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 24 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: East