Why always the Harris Federation - who decides and is this monopoly legitimate?

Rosemary Mann's picture
 4
I live in south east London where Harris seem to be taking over every school practically and there are countless ads for teachers at their Federation. Every new school built seems to be a Harris School. My child's primary school is losing teachers fast who are going to work for Harris as they pay more. Harris are also I understand blatantly cherry picking excellent teachers from local state schools. It's a free world but I'm worried about the impact of this on state primaries as there does at my child's school seem to be a lot of mid year departures creating problems for the children and parents alike. In the tender early years where young children develop attachments to their teachers, this can be particularly problematic. Changes in personnel are part of life and we can't be too precious but it does seem to be getting to the extreme.

My understanding/impression also is that Harris cannot retain staff and that there are many excellent teachers who want to get out of the clutches of the Federation as it's too rigid in ethos.
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I am not totally up with the information but I would like someone to explain to me the economics of the situation. My understanding from my schools governers is that Harris can pay up to £10k a year more than LA schools. The jobs are generally advertised as main scale plus £2k but this is varied to woo the right candidates and also there are performance-related benefits. I would like to understand how they can afford to do this. No doubt it's performance-related largely but as a parent I would be worried about artificial targets being set in order to get to the required performance level. I want results for my child but not within a sausage factory and not at the expense of a wider more balanced experience.

I am also unclear why certain academy chains get to dominate certain geographical areas. Is that purely accidental? I don't see the process being competitive.

My concerns about Harris are increasing. I don't want every school locally to be a Harris school and run on a particular philosophy. What happens if parents don't agree with that philosophy or want to change schools due to bullying etc? In addition I understand that many Harris school at secondary level are selective. So what happens to the kids who don't get selected by their nearest schools and fall by the wayside?

I have three children who are all different and with mixed ability ranging from the creative to having more analytical scientific interests. They are very bright but not necessarily in the same way and not necessarily academically. I don't know therefore what the future will hold for them.

In addition I would be grateful if someone could outline the situation in Bromley where local authority support is no longer existent. I understand that schools are looking to form their own collectives to save costs. I feel that this puts many of our schools in a position of being ripe for takeover and thousands, yet thousands of children in south London are being placed in an uncertain and insecure educational position.

I would be grateful for your views.
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