Petitions launched to stop my local secondary becoming an Academy...

Francis Gilbert's picture
The Bethnal Green Technology College saga continues with petitions now being launched to stop the school becoming an Academy. As I've said in a couple of posts, I'm supporting its bid for Academy status because of the financial situation it's facing and because, contrary to what is being said about it by various union officials, it is not being privatised; no private company is "taking over it". It's just becoming independent of the local authority in order to manage its own admissions, finances etc.

I hope whatever happens the various parties involved will have the children's best interests at heart.  If it stays in local authority control, then it needs to stop being the "dumping ground" for all the problem children in the Borough -- they need to be spread fairly and equally throughout the relevant neighbouring schools -- and will need extra financial support to carry it through the next couple of years.

I think certain people on the"left" are making a big mistake in thinking that going for "Academy status" is a "right-wing" thing to do. It can be in certain situations, but it needs to be treated case by case. Clearly, there are a number of Academies that have helped disadvantaged children very considerably.
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Big Jim's picture
Thu, 23/06/2011 - 14:12

If you think BGTC is the dumping ground for all the Tower Hamlets problem children then you clearly have not been to many of the other Tower Hamlets Schools.

O. Spencer's picture
Thu, 23/06/2011 - 14:44

Interesting post Francis.

Again I echo my comments of earlier that it's good to see someone making rational, cas-e-by-case judgments on Academies.

As you say, it's not about being 'left wing' or 'right wing' but that it's in the best interests of all those concerned with BGTC.

Keith Turvey's picture
Thu, 23/06/2011 - 16:06

I agree to a certain extent with you Francis in terms of looking at this case by case. I had similar feeling when a local school in Brighton became an academy under the Labour government. It channelled much needed resources towards a school that genuinely needed it, having to address the issues involved when the majority of its intake are drawn from one of the most deprived areas in the country. However, the coalition have turned the legislation on its head. There are now two academies in Brighton and Hove with a third showing an active interest.

If academies become the norm I'm not sure it won't just lead to further inequity in terms of funding. Firstly its unlikely that the government will be able to afford for so many schools to convert which could mean a significant clawback or a reworking of the funding formula; something Gove has already indicated he's onto. Secondly the funding is still determined by the number of pupils - the Academy I mentioned earlier that sounds similar to BGTC is only two thirds full. In a market with schools serving more middle class intakes gaining academy status and all of the perceived advantages, what advantage does a school serving a much poorer area stand to gain if the school up the road serving a more affluent intake is also an academy with the same freedoms? Essentially the legislation only serves to isolate both schools and turn them into competitors which is what I think is starting to happen here.

Gove, it seems to me is mainly interested in establishing as many free schools and academies as possible as a measure of success for the policy. The reality I fear will be in the long run for the whole system to become far more fragmented. In the short term it may well be the right thing for BGTC but in the longer term I'm not so sure.

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