Posts Tagged ‘LEAs’

Crisis and Closures in the Academy Schools

September 13, 2017

One of the major issues is the Tories’ continuing attempts to destroy whatever remains of value in the British education system, all for the profit of big business. Last week, one of the academies closed only a week after it had opened. I did wonder what would happen to its pupils. Would they be thrown out and denied an education, as they had enrolled in the wrong school and there may not be places available in the other local schools.

Fortunately, that’s not going to happen. From what I understand the school will be kept open until someone else is found to take it over.

But it is still absolutely scandalous that British schools are now run by private companies, who can announce at any time that they are no longer interested in running them. Especially as tens of millions of taxpayers’ money is given to individual academies, far beyond the budget for the local LEA. In some cases, the amount spent on an academy can reach £40 million, while the budget for the LEA is under a million.

As for replacing LEA’s, from what I understand from talking to friends about them, the authorities dictate that schools can only join certain academy chains. This makes a mockery of the claim that they are outside LEAs, as these chains in effect act as them. But I suppose as the academy chains are all privately run, the government thinks this is just as well then.

I also understand that one of the academies in Radstock in Somerset doesn’t even belong to a chain based in the UK. The chain’s based in Eire, and all its directors live across the Irish Sea. I can’t say I’m surprised. Eire attempted to encourage investment by massively cutting corporate taxes, in the same way that the Tories are doing for Britain. Thus you find many businesses, that actually do their work in Britain, have their headquarters over there, using the country as a tax haven. And the ordinary people of Ireland have paid for this, just as we Brits are paying for the Tories’ self-same policy over here. One of the books I found rooting through one of the bargain bookshops in Park Street was by an Irish writer describing the way his country’s corporate elite had looted the country and caused its recession. Like the banksters in Britain and America.

The academies are a massive scam. They were launched under Maggie Thatcher, and then quietly wound up as they didn’t work. Blair and New Labour took over the idea, as they did so much else of the Tories’ squalid free market economics, and relaunched them as ‘city academies’. And then, under Dave Cameron, they became just ‘academies’.

They were never about improving education. They were about handing over a lucrative part of the state sector to private industry. They aren’t any better at educating children than state schools. Indeed, many can only maintain in the league tables by excluding poorer students, and those with special needs or learning difficulties. And if state schools had the same amount spent on them as those few, which are more successful than those left in the LEAs, they too would see improved standards.

In fact, academies offer worse teaching, because as private firms in order to make a profit they have to cut wages and conditions for the workforce to a minimum. And with the Tories freezing public sector workers’ wages, it’s no wonder that tens of thousands of teachers are leaving the profession.

And those companies interested in getting a piece of this cool, educational action are hardly those, whose reputation inspires confidence. One of them, apparently, belongs to Rupert Murdoch, at least according to Private Eye again. Yes, the man, who has almost single-handedly aimed at the lowest common denominator in print journalism, lowering the tone and content of whatever newspaper he touches and whose main newspaper, the Sun, is a byword for monosyllabic stupidity and racism, now wants to run schools. Or at least, publish the textbooks for those who do.

Academy schools are a massive failure. They’re another corporate scam in which the public pays well over the odds for a massively inferior service from the private sector, all so that Blair and May’s mates in the private sector could reap the profits.

It’s time they were wound up. Get the Tories out, and private industry out of state education.

From 2012: Private Eye on Government Officials Joining Companies to Privatise Schools

April 11, 2014

Commend him for announcing the Savile investigation

Michael Gove considering which other schools to wreck through privatisation.

This is from Private Eye’s issue for the 30th November – 13 December 2012.

Revolving Doors

Back to School

The revolving door that propels education officials into the trusts and companies lobbying for government cash to run schools is hastening the move of education away from the control of local education authorities (LEAs) towards that of unelected private organisations.

Earlier this year John Coles, former director-general of the Department for Education’s Standards Directorate, became chief executive of the United Learning Trust, the UK’s largest academy chain with 31 schools. Though the rules say Coles cannot lobby government until December next year, there is no real mechanism to enforce the ban.

In September, Miriam Rosen, former chief inspector of schools, became a consultant to ARK Schools, which operates 18 academies and aims to bring hedge fund values to education. ARK stands for Absolute Return for Kids – “absolute return” being a hedge fund phrase about making returns (profits) even when an economy is going down the pan. ARK also employs Tony Blair’s former aide, Sally Morgan.

David Cameron’s former special adviser James O’Shaughnessy is in the academy business now too. In January he left the prime minister and became group strategy director of his old public school, Wellington College, which sponsors a state academy, Wiltshire’s Wellington Academy. O’Shaughnessy recently argued in a pamphlet for the policy Exchange thinktank that only academies can change the “scandal” of “coasting” schools which only achieve “satisfactory” grades rather than “good” or “excellent” marks. Wellington Academy’s most recent Ofsted grade was, er, “satisfactory”.

Currently only non-profit organisations like United Learning, Ark and Wellington can run chains of academy schools. But O’Shaughnessy’s pamphlet proposed bringing profit-making firms into state schools too. He argued that the charitable trusts can’t cope with the thousands of schools education secretary Michael Gove has “freed” from LEAs to become academies; and that academy chains in partnership with non-profit groups. This could be good news for O’Shaughnessy who has set up a firm, Mayforth Consulting, to act as an “educational entrepreneur”.

It could also help the biggest pro-academy voice of all, former Labour education minister Lo0rd Adonis, whose pro-academy stance is widely admired by the current government. Adonis is employed as an adviser by schools firm GEMS. Because GEMs is profit-making, it cannot run academies in the UK; and Adonis says his work for GEMS is “international only”. But under O’Shaughnessy’s plan, firms like GEMS could get into the British academy business after all.

This report shows the institutional corruption, which sees ministers, government officials and senior civil servants join the companies they are supposed to be supervising and regulating, to demand even more state functions should be privatised and handed over to those same companies. This was the ‘sleaze’ surrounding John Major’s administration, and it has continued through subsequent governments into David Cameron’s. The article clearly demonstrates how many ministers and education companies are actively campaigning for our schools to be privatised, just as David Cameron’s party is full of ministers, who stand to benefit from his desire to privatise the health service, including Iain Duncan Smith. As for the companies themselves, their record of providing education in schools is poor. A month ago the government issued a list of 30 academy chains which were banned from acquiring any more schools because of their poor performance. Education should not be in the hands of private companies, and should remain firmly part of the state sector.