Stories + Views
Do not mention autonomy……I think we said it once, but it looks like we got away with it….
I just wanted to give a quick update on where we are in the mad, mad academy world of Lincolnshire.
First of all….this story has broken in the press this week.
The Greenwood Dale Trust are becoming a major sponsor of schools down the east coast of Lincolnshire, despite people always expressing concern to me about their policies on unofficial exclusions at the Skegness Academy.
However, the latest twist has a different emphasis. It was announced last week that they have appointed a new executive headteacher for their cluster of primary schools in Lincolnshire. You will see from the article that one of the schools mentioned is Mablethorpe Primary. However, I have been told emphatically that the Mablethorpe governing body were not consulted on this at all. (In fact, they had a full governors meeting the night before I found out about it through a leaked e-mail and the appointment was not mentioned!) It is unthinkable to me that an appointment of a new executive head can be made with no input at all from the governing bodies of the schools concerned. This is just one of many examples of schools sacrificing autonomy to their sponsors, and I find it shameful.
Additionally, schools in Lincolnshire who are converting half way through a school year are facing enormous challenges in getting a business plan in place. I know of one governor of a primary school whose school is converting in the autumn, where the LA and the EFA between them have been totally muddled about how to even insure a school during the transition process! Additionally, they still have no business plan in place for when they do convert, because key information is not available to them yet. Governors still do not know how much of their LA surplus they get to keep, and if they do keep a portion of it do they pay any of it to the sponsor? This was key information that was needed prior to making the decision to convert, but seeing as they took the vote with the “Ofsted says fail” gun to their heads I understand why governors have not felt like being thorough! As I have said many, many times fear based decisions can never be good ones. Too much of our education system is working under threat . I am sure we will come to repent this day sooner or later.
On a nerdier note….at a District Council meeting last week we were taking part on the consultation that Lincolnshire County Council has put in place as it prepares to take over responsibility for public health. Real concern is being expressed at how county council’s are going to struggle with children’s health now schools have moved away from the LAst. One senior councillor was already stating that there were problems ensuring access for school nurses in some academies. It says a great deal for the lack of strategic government thinking that they are taking schools away from councils, while wanting councils to become responsible for children’s health. It goes much deeper than simply being about academy food, which is where the focus has been so far. It will be very interesting to see how local authorities cope with working with a multitude of sponsors and individual non-sponsored academies. It could be a good one to watch, because where council’s get it right, there will be a real need to share that emerging best practise in a very rapid way.