I recently met staff from a so-called "zombie school" – a school waiting for the dubious honour of being transferred from one academy chain provider to another.
According to some reports there are more than 60 zombie schools, a statistic that equates in reality to some 40,000 pupils cast into a nowhere land.
These are the school also known as SNOWs (Schools that No One Wants), or “untouchables”.
The stories from within these places are horrifying. Teachers desperately look for alternative employment, parents looking for alternative schools and the poor old children turning up each day feeling more and more alienated from the system.
When are we going to acknowledge that this attempt to privatise all schools through academisation simply has not worked for far too many schools, and for far too many children?
To my mind, the attempt to academise all schools at the expense of the local authorities has been an unmitigated disaster. A whole generation of pupils have been subject to – or should we say “victim of”? – this experiment from successive governments. And can we honestly say our schools are any the better?
'World of chaos'
Academies making up their own rules, paying massive salaries to their top execs (up to half a million quid) and bartering as to what schools they will and won’t help is no way to run a schools structure.
Once upon a time we actually had a stable education system. We knew where we stood with local authorities. Of course, some were better than others but in large part schools across the country felt as if we were actually singing from the same hymn sheet. Even Ofsted played their bit by inspecting the local authorities, too.
Now as we inhabit a world of chaos.
This has been one big experiment, which has resulted in far too many losers for it to be allowed to continue. The extraordinary story of the zombie schools is just the tip of the iceberg.
It's time we stopped, took stock and compared the LA system of old with what we’ve got now and asked which was better. I think we all know the answer.
Colin Harris has led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were "outstanding" across all categories
To read more of Colin's articles, visit his back catalogue