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The sting in the academy tail

In response to the suggestion that sixth-form colleges might become academies ("Sixth forms to debate mass move 'inside the academy tent' ", 23 November), the Department for Education is quoted as saying: "In academies, teachers and headteachers, not politicians and bureaucrats, have control of how the school or college is run." Neither politicians nor bureaucrats now exercise such control, of course. The ultimate control of any institution rests with the person who can close it. Despite all the talk of freedom, an academy is constitutionally a government institution, dependent on the goodwill of the education secretary of the day. The leadership of any college needs to understand the full implications of that status. It should also be aware that, once adopted, it is irreversible.

Sir Peter Newsam, Former chief schools adjudicator, Thornton Dale, Yorkshire.

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