All inadequate schools are failing, but some are more failing than others
Academy Farm, New Years’ Eve 2015 Boxer was puzzled. The writing on the wall looked longer. For months he had walked by the slogan. He thought he had learned it by heart: ‘All inadequate schools are failing’ But today there were more words. He asked Clover to read them out loud. Clover cleared her throat and whinnied: ‘All inadequate schools are failing, but some are more failing than others’ Boxer’s memory was not reliable, he knew. Perhaps the slogan had been longer and he had not noticed. But he had no time to worry. The animals had been called for an urgent meeting. When he entered the barn, he was hit by a cacophony of sound. Bleats, caws, cackles, grunts, barks and squeaks echoed from the rafters. What was the matter? The noise abated as soon as Squealer climbed onto the hay bales. He cleared his throat: ‘My fellow animals, some of you will have heard news which attempts to discredit the words of our leaders. This scurrilous analysis attempts to show that sponsored academies are more likely to remain inadequate than those which remain under the control of local authorities...’ At the words ‘local authorities’, some animals began to hiss. The sheep launched into a chorus of ‘Academies gooooood; council schools baaaaad’. But Squealer silenced them with an upraised arm. ‘My fellow animals, I share your indignation. But I am here to tell you that the analysis by the NUT…’ The dogs started to growl. ‘…and…’ Squealer’s voice rose for maximum effect, ‘…Local Schools Network…’ The animals gasped. The growls became slavering snarls. ‘…is utter rubbish!’ Squealer paused to wipe his snout with a handkerchief. When he resumed speaking, he adopted a quieter, oily tone. ‘Obviously local authority schools appear to improve quicker, because although they are inadequate, they are not as inadequate as the schools which were taken out of their control. Although the council schools were failing, they were not failing as much as the schools we have rescued. 557 sponsor-led academies were judged inadequate at their last inspection before becoming academies. These were the worst, the very worst of local authority schools.’ ‘It is obvious, is it not, that it will take longer to improve these desperate schools? Some of them had been languishing in the despond of poor performance for years. Bringing in an academy sponsor is the best way to turn around this stubborn lack of success. 1000 failing schools have already been transformed under the leadership of strong sponsors. That is why we are bringing in a new law which will make it easier to ensure poor schools, including ones that are coasting, become academies. We must not, we cannot, allow ourselves to be pushed off course by any analysis which contradicts what we say.’ The barn erupted into a spontaneous yell of support. Squealer’s special advisors were already tweeting. But Boxer remained puzzled. He was sure Squealer had said there had been around 500 inadequate schools turned into sponsored academies but later he’d said 1000 had been transformed. He knew he was bad at sums, but he did not think that 500 equalled 1000. He must have misheard. He sighed. He would have to learn the longer slogan by heart: ‘All inadequate schools are failing, but some are more failing than others’. Read Henry Stewart's analysis which was dismissed as 'utter rubbish' by a Department for Education spokesperson here. And the academy question ministers refuse to answer is here.