LSN is not alone in expressing concerns about the academies 'myths and facts' document issued by the Department for Education (debunked here, here and here). The NUT published a rebuttal yesterday. And now the weekly National Governors' Association (NGA) newsletter criticises some of the 'facts' in the DfE press release.
The NGA makes it clear it doesn’t think one school structure is superior to others and the decision to convert should be made solely by school governing bodies. That said, the NGA challenges the DfE’s claim that parents were only on governing bodies as representatives of parents. This statement, the NGA says, contradicts the DfE’s own Governance Handbook.
The NGA takes issue with the DfE’s assertion that non-academies were locked into a ‘one-size fits all dictated by County Hall'. The NGA drily says, ‘The DfE appears to have missed the last twenty five years of local management of school in which governing bodies and headteachers have largely managed their own affairs.’
The DfE is being ‘slightly disingenuous’ about whether primary schools will have to join multi-academy trusts (MATs), the NGA writes. The governors' body notes the Government's claim that academies could only be viable as stand-alone academies if they were 'sustainable'. There was no definition of 'sustainable', but the NGA cites the Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, who had suggested that 1,200 pupils may be the smallest viable number. It is unlikely, then, that primary schools would be large enough to be ‘sustainable’ on their own and would, therefore, be obliged to join MATs.
UPDATE 09.12. Lord Baker, former Tory education secretary, has joined the critics against forced academization, according to The Times today. He told Newsnight schools should be allowed to convert 'at their own pace' and parent governors should remain. The Times also says Nicky Morgan will 'recalibrate' her argument for mass academization by telling MPs the 'status quo is no longer an option' for non-academies because a 'tipping point' has passed and primary schools would become 'increasingly vulnerable'. Perhaps Morgan hasn't noticed that the majority of primary schools are not academies. They haven't rushed to convert because they appreciate LA support. Morgan admits, however, that when schools convert they deprive LAs of money which finances such things as school improvement services . So much for the claim in the DfE's 'facts and myths' document that there would still be a role for LAs in a fully-academized system. LAs will be impotent if they have insufficient money to act as 'champions' for children.
And, in a statement worthy of Squealer, Morgan says no primary will be forced to join a MAT. This is how Squealer would have put it: 'My fellow animals, don't think for a moment that we will force any primary school to join a MAT. Nothing could be further from the case. We expect that small groups of village primaries will combine to form their own MATs. And I'm sure you will agree with me, an expectation is not the same as coercion.'