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Gove's favourites

(33 Posts)
Penstemmon Tue 18-Oct-16 22:21:05

I am not saying local authorities were without fault but really this prodigal behaviour with public money did not happen! I am sure there are some perfectly decent Academy Trusts spending money appropriately. However it makes my blood boil when i see this money from the Education Pot being squandered. Like others on here I am a community school governor and we really struggle to make ends meet when setting the budget and that is without any thing fancy and hardly any maintenance possible after we have paid salaries and utility bills!

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 08:12:59

I am just beginning to try and work out how this "academy" status works penstemmon . Two of the very best secondary schools in our area are academies and are without question way ahead of the other schools. Both have outstanding Ofsted reports. Is that because they have more money available to them? Is it because being so successful they can then cream off the best intake of children? Leaving the rest (the ones they don't want) for the other schools. I know they operate a slightly different admissions policy. I would be grateful for any information that might help me understand.

Mamie Wed 19-Oct-16 08:40:54

They vary Gillybob, but yes they have had access to larger pots of money. My eldest GD is at an excellent academy, run by a small trust with strong historic links to education. They have a fabulous new building, excellent teachers and two consecutive outstanding grades from Ofsted.
The catchment area is mixed, but contains some challenging areas. The school has been so successful that I understand the catchment area is down to half a mile (not based on feeder schools).
Other academy trusts have had a much more chequered history and some schools have not performed well at all.
Overall they perform no better than LA schools.

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 08:46:02

Unfortunately it appears that the school to which I am referring takes the vast percentage of it's children from feeders. The rest are taken as siblings and looked after children.

Iam64 Wed 19-Oct-16 08:52:30

Schools were often given no choice but to become academies and the large pots of money on offer provided an obvious inducement. One local school in an area of high deprivation had its excellent head teacher squeezed out and a super head imposed. The super head now has responsibility for two very large primary schools, both of which are achieving worse, not better academic results and where pastoral care is nothing like as good as it was.

I accept the local authorities weren't without fault but the way Gove forced his academy/free school programme wasn't the way to deal with those faults. Another hugely expensive change for the sake of change.

I hope that Theresa May and Co listen to the strong words from the current head of Ofsted, who is opposed to the reintroduction of selective education. Too much government interference in education, health etc.

Mamie Wed 19-Oct-16 08:55:23

I don't think the concept of feeders exists where my DD lives. There are grammar schools, an academy and some church secondary schools with strict rules about regular church attendance for years. Some children go over the county border to comprehensives.
It is well worth looking at the small print of the school's selection procedures though.

Luckygirl Wed 19-Oct-16 09:32:17

How very sad - and so exasperating. I too am a governor at a local school and we struggle to buy paper towels or toilet rolls. And here are these guys awarding themselves all this money. I do not know how they get away with it - at every meeting we start with declarations of interest, and yet here we have people who award contracts to their mates and pocket a bung. Does no-one scrutinise academy accounts or ask the right questions? Can they just do what they ant and get away with anything?

They all need to butt out and leave teachers to teach.

vampirequeen Wed 19-Oct-16 09:45:44

When my girls were younger they were lucky because being RC they could access a very good RC secondary. Unfortunately things were not so good for other children on the estate. They were supposed to have two schools to choose from. The first was a very successful school with excellent academic results. The second was what could only be described as a 'sink' school. Terrible results, lots of behaviour issues, difficulty keeping staff...the works. The first school was heavily over-subscribed so although the catchment area officially covered the estate the school sent out a second catchment area which cut the estate out completely. In fact the catchment area became an area near to the school that was very middle class where a lot of parents were professionals including doctors, university professors and teachers. This left the second school as the only choice for the estate children. A choice isn't a choice when you're told don't bother to choose it because you won't be considered due to where you live. Even the estate parents tried to avoid sending their children to the available school so they would apply to non catchment schools desperately hoping that their child would be one of the 'lucky' few. If they failed they knew their child would be allocated a place at the very undersubscribed local school. Education shouldn't be a post code lottery. All schools should be funded adequately and should not be allowed to use selection on the QT.

Jayanna9040 Wed 19-Oct-16 09:54:26

Lots more money and the ability to select only the best and turn away anyone they don't like the look of. Of course they achieve. Fine if you can get in. The scrap heap for the rest.

foxie Wed 19-Oct-16 10:06:17

Good schools don't happen by accident, they are made by good teachers no matter what the school is called. Some teachers are inspirational and some are not irrespective of their qualifications and that has nothing to do with money. Some teachers have a vocation and other treat teaching just as a job. And while I'm at it let me voice a very unpopular and contentious opinion that ALL faith schools should be scrapped. Indoctrination in one faith or another IMHO no longer has relevance in modern society

rosesarered Wed 19-Oct-16 10:12:21

I will second all that Luckygirl says on this.

annodomini Wed 19-Oct-16 10:15:52

There must be priority areas in some LEAs. My GS wanted to go to a school just outside his family's area - 'because it has a better academic record!' - but was allocated a place at his local school where his older sister was already happily ensconced and where he is now doing nicely in year 8.

vampirequeen Wed 19-Oct-16 11:29:22

Having taught in and had my children educated by faith schools I totally agree that all faith schools should be scrapped.

At the time it seemed OK but now I'm outside of that cocoon I realise how destructive it was. If a parent wants to indoctrinate their child then it's up to them. Taxpayers money shouldn't be used to help with that indoctrination.

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 11:33:44

It is probably a lot easier to be a good school if you only ever cream off the "best" pupils from the nicest areas foxie . The school very close to where my DGC live is almost impossible to get into unless you come from one of the feeders all of which are placed in/around upmarket villages making it impossible for anyone (even those on the doorstep) to get into.

Penstemmon Wed 19-Oct-16 11:46:30

I think that larger Academy Trusts have more chance to use funding 'creatively' to line the pockets of their senior staff/Trust board members. Some of course do not and are successful schools serving local communities well. Many academies do have selection criteria /test which may disadvantage certain children from gaining a place at what may be their nearest school. I know that when a well known academy chain took over a troubled school a significant number of pupils were excluded. They had to go somewhere! So it is not always a sign of better teaching that results go up just that they refused to work with the "difficult" students who end up as non attenders or at a community school. Still part of our society...

suzied Wed 19-Oct-16 12:08:03

These 5 are only the tip of the iceberg. There are lots of examples where the executives of these academy trusts employ their relatives in unadvertised positions, set up companies or as consultants, siphoning off taxpayers money which should be spent on the children. Huge 6 figure salaries are commonplace.

trisher Wed 19-Oct-16 12:09:48

If you give headteachers too much power, as academies do, there will always be some who are unable to cope, some who take advantage and commit fraud, some who fail completely and a few who will do well. The big problem is that even the few who do well eventually retire or move on and then a successful school begins to fail. Schools should go back to providing an education and leave the finances to Local authorities. Teachers should teach not meddle with finance and money.

moleswife Wed 19-Oct-16 12:15:04

The thing to remember about academies is that their introduction has been largely about privatizing education and taking teachers out of their pay and conditions. Academies can employ unqualified staff to teach, they can require their staff to work whatever hours they like to impose at whatever rate of pay they choose. Currently there is a huge problem with recruitment and retention of teachers in all types of school with about half of all newly qualified teachers not getting beyond 3 years before leaving the profession. On the other hand, older, more experienced teachers are being 'urged' on because they are expensive. Yet academy chain executive heads are receiving huge salaries, exploiting nepotism and are largely protected from scrutiny until something major happens because the local authority has no control over academy schools - all control comes from the Secretary of State.
Please, if you are a governor, ensure you vote AGAINST any measures to turn your school into an academy, the short term financial inducement is just that - short term - and it brings so much more with it!

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 12:25:14

I desperately want my DGD to get into the academy close to where she lives as the next alternative school is miles away and has a terrible Ofsted report. I can't see why local schools can't be for local children. Mind you reading the list of governors at the school is like reading a who's who in the financial world. Their list of "interests" is very long winded.

Penstemmon Wed 19-Oct-16 12:25:27

There is no financial inducement any more! Money now given covers legal costs of transfering property lease/owmership from LA to Academy Trust. Sometimes it might cover cost of staff redundancies ..often 2/3 schhols come together and employ 1 bursar rather than 3 finance managers.

trisher Wed 19-Oct-16 12:39:24

Schools never had bursars or finance managers they had headteachers, heads of departments and teachers, they had secretarial staff and office staff who were very low paid, the LEA set the budget and everyone coped.

Morgana Wed 19-Oct-16 18:43:19

Let's face it, governments only do things for their own ends. So they create academies to make money for their chums. They are going to build HS2 to line the pockets of themselves/their friends. They are now going to hive off a big part of the NHS to .. yes you've guessed it. Even more scarily they are now trying to get a bill through Parliament which will scrap some of the safeguards put in place to protect children. It seems to have passed through the House of Commons already - did anyone see that on TV?! - and so many social services will be privatised. Now I wonder why?!!!

daphnedill Fri 21-Oct-16 07:43:50


I agree about the number of admin staff in schools. I worked in a medium-sized comp, where four office staff did everything. Now the school has had an extension built for the army of administrators. Most secondary schools now have almost as many office staff, TAs and cover supervisors, etc as they have teachers, doing the jobs which used to be done centrally.

Not only do schools now have staffroom politics, but they also have admin staff politics and SEN politics. My experience is that the hierarchies have destroyed and semblance of teamwork. Separate hierarchies even fight against each other and it's not uncommon for teachers to feel bullied by admin staff.

I am sooooooooooo glad I no longer work in schools.

PS. Academies are no better or worse than LA schools. The first academies were introduced by Labour as a last resort to try and turn round failing schools. The next batch were so-called outstanding schools, which were given greater autonomy. The latest ones tend to be part of chains and are a mixed bag and the ones I would personally avoid as a parent or teacher.

daphnedill Fri 21-Oct-16 07:46:19

typo alert...and semblance = any semblance

trisher Fri 21-Oct-16 11:05:51

Schools are now commercial enterprises. Education is a commodity. Unfortunately it is the future of children they are trading with.