Tweets sent out by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) misrepresented the Education Select Committee report on Academies and Free Schools
, writes the Committee’s chair, Graham Stuart MP, in a letter of complaint to the union*.
He was particularly annoyed by the NUT tweet quoting from the News Release which accompanied the report’s publication:
‘Current evidence does not prove that academies raise standards overall or for disadvantaged children.’
This was ‘highly selective’, said Stuart, because it was followed in the press release by a sentence which said:
'It is clear though that academisation has led to greater competition, challenging many maintained schools to improve and incentivising local authorities to develop speedier and more effective interventions in underperforming schools.'
Stuart was right – this sentence was in the press release. But it was not in the actual report.
The report said it was an aim
for ‘a self-improving school system’ to ‘raise standards across the local area, either through competition or through collaboration’ (paragraph 46). But it did not say this aim had been fulfilled. Evidence pointed towards competition being seen
as a driver (paragraph 47) not that it was
a driver. The Committee contradicted this perception by citing the OECD - collaboration, not competition, was the ‘key’
(paragraph 47). It concluding that collaboration was ‘essential’ (paragraph 120).
The Committee was NOT’ clear’ that academisation had incentivised local authorities to intervene more speedily and effectively. Its finding was tentative – academisation may
have been an incentive not that it was
It’s disappointing that a thoroughly researched report, which is described by Kevin Courtney*, NUT’s Deputy General Secretary, as ‘a solid piece of work’, should have been distorted in a press release to paint a more positive picture of academies than was presented in the report. It’s more disappointing that the Committee’s chair should have quoted from this misleading press release.
*The letter from Graham Stuart MP to the NUT and Kevin Courtney's reply can be downloaded here