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Tuesday, 10 April 2012 07:38

Academies: the stuff of nightmares

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I have recently come across a website dedicated to tracking academies, run by the Anti Academies Alliance, and parts of it make grim reading. One has to take into account that its aim is clearly in the title, but even so, some of the information it presents on academies, and particularly on sponsors of academies is very frightening for the future of education. Probably the biggest sponsor of academies is Lord Harris, with the introduction of the article on his chain beginning: "The academy schools movement is increasingly dominated by chains. These self-styled ‘charities’ are in reality ‘edu-businesses’ paying fat cat salaries to their CEOs, developing corporate branding and seeking aggressive expansion in the education ‘market’. This briefing looks at the Harris Federation.........


 The Harris Federation is a key player amongst academy chains and has played a leading role in developing academy policies since they were introduced by New Labour. Harris Federation have several well established schools. The Federation is named after Lord Phillip Harris of Peckham, one of the richest men in Britain who has a personal fortune of £275 million and runs the Carpetright chain of carpet stores. Harris is a member of the Tory Party and has many large donations including to several leading figures (see below). The Harris Federation currently runs 13 academies, 1 of which is a primary school and has 2 more in development. 2 primary schools, which Michael Gove has declared are ‘underperforming’, are to be forced to become academies with Harris identified as a sponsor.  Harris also has 2 ‘free’ schools in development, one in Tottenham, North London". The article looks closely at the operation of the academies, and identifies many troubling aspects, although currently the Harris group of academies has no presence in Kent or Medway. 

A second article looks at the Academies Enterprise Group. The introduction begins (excerpt): The Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is the fastest growing Academy chain. They currently run 19 academies. The government has identified 19 primary schools that it says are ‘underperforming’ and are to be handed over to AET. This will make them the largest chain in the country with 38 academies. AET was formed in September 2008 to run 3 academies based on the success of the Greensward academy. The CEO is David Triggs who was one of the first self-styled ‘superheads’ enlisted to help run schools in need of assistance. The AET accounts for 2010 state:  “The new coalition Government has made it clear they expect to see the AET grow rapidly. To this end the AET Board has agreed to grow clusters of schools across the country. Their ambition is to have a group of secondary academies, primary school academies, a studio school academy and a university technology college academy They will be exploring the possibility of moving their current secondary academies to all-through academies. This expansion may see the development of clusters in the North of England, Central and Southern England.”  AET is about to take over three underperforming primary schools in Maidstone: Bell Wood Primary, Molehill Copse Primary and Oak Trees Community Schools. It is also effectively running the failing Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate. 

These two articles on what could be called agressively expanding  academy groups, show the way we can expect 'education' to develop in this country. The NHS service can look on this model as showing th eway for its future also. 

Government has now identified 96 primary schools and 65 secondary schools across th ecountry which are to become sponsored academies.  Details of those on the list are being kept secret until conversion is complete. Academies Enterprise Trust has 19 of these including recently converted Treetops Academy (previously Bell Wood Community Primary School) and  Oaks Academy (previously Oak Trees Community School) both in Maidstone; together with St James the Great Academy (previously St James the Great Primary Community and Nursery School) in East Malling - this one was a surprise to me.  York Road Junior Academy (previously York Road Junior School and Language Unit) in Dartford is being sponsored by the Leigh Academies Trust.  Others being considered will include Sherwood Park Community School in  Tunbridge Wells and Mole Hill Copse Primary School in Maidstone. KCC initially reported seven such schools, but I have now identified ten  possibilities, including the above.

You will find an article looking at the major academy groups taking over low performing primary schools here


Read 22390 times Last modified on Monday, 10 September 2012 16:52

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