Stories + Views
Forced conversions of primary schools
I’ve commented on this below, but I think it’s such an important issue I’ve decided to post on it.
In comments on the latest batch of primary league tables, Michael Gove made it clear that he is moving towards the forced conversion of 200+ ‘failing’ primary schools into sponsored academies.
Almost no primary schools have willingly converted to academy status, but this is an absolute game-changer. Gove has targeted those primary schools whose results have been ‘below the floor’ (that is, average) for five years, around 200; but he is clearly looking at many more. Crucially, his decisions appear to take no account of the school’s ability to improve as assessed by Ofsted.
The school at which I am a parent and governor is vulnerable in this process, not because it is a bad school, but because it has an extremely challenging intake, and many parents who do not support their children’s education. Notwithstanding exemplary commitment, energy, imagination and sheer hard work by head and teachers, results remain poor. This is precisely the kind of school that will be vulnerable to a forced conversion, and it would have catastrophic effects.
For me this is a much more serious issue than free schools. Potentially it is about the wholesale privatisation of community schools. But it also targeted where campaigns are vulnerable. It is notable, I think, how many stories on this site pick on success stories of schools where conditions are difficult but parents are committed: but where parents lack that commitment, the school is much more vulnerable.
There are, then, two issues. Firstly, there is Gove’s determination to use standards as an alibi for privatisation/centralised control. Secondly, there is the question of how to campaign for local schools where there are not enough mouthy, articulate, informed and determined people to do the campaigning.
Warwick Mansell has an article on this issue here.