It is too early to board the academy express

10th September 2010 at 01:00

Headteacher Roger Pope wants "to be travelling in first class with the rest of the gang", and like other proponents of academies, ignores the costs for our schools ("The academy train is leaving the station: I want to be on it", September 3).

Like him, we have been invited to consider joining the "first-class fast track". There might be half a million more in the annual budget, but the costs of additional accountancy fees to cover annual reporting, additional payroll and human resources alone could run to #163;120,000. Add to that admission appeals, VAT, additional insurance cover, etc, and you will largely wipe out any gain.

In the media, other "academy freedoms" have been highlighted, such as the opportunity to study IGCSEs or not pursue Diplomas. Actually, most of the freedoms are already available to schools, and soon there is to be further de-regulation.

Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to spread academy freedoms to allow heads more power to deal with children who are disruptive. Will that apply to all schools, or will academy heads be allowed to duck managed moves and fresh starts, yet permanently exclude their own troublesome students, only to add to the overcrowding in the second-class carriages?

It will be interesting to see what further inducements come in the autumn spending review to encourage more to leap across to the "first-class carriage". Would it be too much to hope for fair funding for all schools? This would also maintain accountability to a democratically elected local authority and give truly stable tracks to run on if the carriage roof does begin to leak.

Let us not rush to buy a ticket on a magical mystery tour; we should wait until the reality of the academy package becomes clear before taking a decision for our young people.

Nigel Burgoyne, Headteacher, Kesgrave High School, Suffolk.

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