Academies: are they just white elephants?

22nd April 2011 at 01:00

In his editorial, Gerard Kelly comprehensively misses the point.

He is right that "there is nothing more democratic than a group of citizens banding together to set up their own schools". Many of the best schools founded over the last 500 years have been developed in this way. But the wholly undemocratic principle at issue is that academies are Government schools. They are annually funded under an agreement with a single individual, a Government minister.

That agreement is terminable at seven years' notice. Oh, but a future government minister who inherits these contracts would never suddenly reduce the level of discretionary funding he hands out to each academy year by year. Really? Tell that to a school that thought it would be rebuilt under the Building Schools for the Future programme. The future well-being of any individual academy depends on the goodwill of a single individual: the secretary of state of the day. That is the principle at stake.

Sir Peter Newsam, Former chief schools adjudicator, Pickering, North Yorkshire.

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