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Put academies back under state control

Comment 2nd July 2010

To either fully return academies to the state, or to at least give the sponsor less control than they currently have. While some academies are doing better than they previously were, there's evidence to prove that many are just steering less able students towards vocational subjects which, while perhaps being easier than a gcse, are worth about 4 in the league tables. Other academies, meanwhile, are doing considerably worse than they were before.

Many academies save money on teachers by getting them to teach subjects that they have no qualifications in. I know one girl who did a law a-level in a London academy and the teacher left halfway through the course, but was never replaced. It then turned out he'd been teaching the wrong syllabus. While I was doing my GCSEs in an academy, 'less-able' students were often given GCSE maths lessons by a recent graduate who wasn't a qualified teacher and had a degree in History, while the teacher taught the kids expected to get a C or above, and on the morning of the German oral, one of these graduates who apparently 'knew a bit of German' told a 'less-able student' how to answer a question in the exam, getting the word order wrong herself, and then thinking for a further 5 minutes about whether or not the verb goes to the end.

Furthermore, in a bid to get more sponsors, many academies don't even get the 2 million pounds, but instead the interest on it. In return, the sponsor is allowed to attach their brand name to the school, and have a say in how a state school for local people is run (Brian Souter decided to teach creationism in his)

One Academy near where I used to live was considered locally to be the best school and was used as a shining example of the academy system. I then found out from a friend who previously had a son at the school that one Science teacher refused to teach evolution, was homophobic, anti-Jewish and was also found by the police to be illegally circumsizing baby boys. He's still there.

It also turned out that this school's exam success is partly down to putting year 9 kids in for 3 different types of relatively easy IT exam.

A BBC news article said today that "49% of academy A*-C GCSE passes were for "academic" exams, compared with 73% in other schools."

Furthermore, Academies are often only set up in more deprived areas (or schools in wealthy areas with a poorer intake). They've definately created a two-tier system, but not in the way that the Academy kids have an unfair advantage.

Why does this matter?

This is important because although success is based on little evidence, the academy programme is currently taking over most of England's schools, and often affecting the poorest students worst. It's willing to hand power of a whole school of childrens' education to anybody with money, which is at least a slightly worrying way of running things. There are many areas without any schools which aren't academies, so choice for parents is limited. Working conditions are often worse, since the rules for schools no longer apply (e.g. in my old academy, teachers had to work in temperatures of up to 33C). Academies are experimental, and massively unfair on many students who are steered in to choosing the best qualifications for the league tables, or who are coached for exams by people who have less knowledge of the subject than they do.

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