Lies, Damn Lies and False Claims about Academies
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Author:  RogerOThornhill [ Wed 24 Sep, 2014 9:24 am ]
Post subject:  Lies, Damn Lies and False Claims about Academies

There's nothing that riles me more than the claims being made about the stunning 'success' of one academy or another - it seems that to justify the policy of conversion the results have to be pumped up out of all proportion to the changes made by the act of conversion.

Let me show you what I mean.

Sponsored Academies Week: The remarkable transformation of Grampian Primary School (1)

Today we return to Derby for another sponsored academy success story. This time it has been delivered by the CfBT Schools Trust and has taken place at the Grampian Primary School in Sinfin.

Two years ago only 54 per cent of pupils at the school were reaching the expected basic standard in English and maths - the "floor" all primary schools are required to reach is 60 per cent. The result this year was 100 per cent. The conversion to an academy and the move to replace teaching assistants with teachers were both initiatives opposed by the unions.

OK, two points here that need an answer:

1. When was the conversion to an academy?
2. What was the figure for last year - the one between the 54% in 2011 and the 100% in 2013?

1. According to the DfE list (All open academies) conversion took place in December 2012.
2. According to the league tables the equivalent figure for 2012 was 93%.

There we go...the rise in performance was remarkable - but it occurred largely while the school was within its local authority not as an academy. Unless of course you judge the rise from 93% to 100% as greater than from 54% to 93%.

So what else?

From the HT comments:

"Having curriculum freedom that being an academy brings means that we can concentrate on other work with the children such as problem-solving and teamwork right across the school.

"For example, we can introduce a project such as creating a wildlife area in the school and see it through from start to finish.

Looking at the new National Curriculum for Science, there is nothing whatsoever to stop a school doing anything like this. In fact, the maintained primary school where I am a governor did exactly that...and continues to maintain it.

"This could mean taking pupils out into the Peak District to look at what works in wildlife areas through to having nature lessons, or having an intensive programme of visits and visitors.

"So the good work we did before becoming an academy is able to continue."

Oh, so the national curriculum wasn't stopping you doing projects like this? I thought it was only now that you were an academy that you were able to do this.

Another positive from becoming an academy is that the school has been given the funding to be re-roofed this summer," he said.

"We have also had two open areas roofed so that we can use them as two additional group study areas.

"This had been on Derby City Council's agenda three times previously over several years but each time it was cancelled".

"But now within a few months we have bid for and been given the money through the trust of which we are a member.

How nice for you. Our £23,000 allocation for this year didn't go very far when faced with replacing windows and sofits.

There you go - LA's get minimal capital allocations - Academies get whatever they want. No wonder Gove was overspent by £1bn on the programme over the first two years!

I'm assuming that Conservative Home won't be running the story of Chatham Grammar School which converted as Ofsted-rated Good back in 2011 but has now been rated as failing and in special measures.(2)



Author:  RogerOThornhill [ Wed 24 Sep, 2014 9:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lies, Damn Lies and False Claims about Academies

Further to the above I note that Gove was unstinting in his praise:

Education Secretary Michael Gove has praised the success of Grampian Primary Academy which has achieved 100% Level 4+ in reading, writing and maths less than one year after converting to academy status with CfBT Schools Trust.

Remarkable. Or maybe not. Carry on...

Praising the school's success, Michael Gove added: "At Grampian Chris Perkins has used his academy freedoms to make much-needed improvements to the school building, getting more cash. That's not a 'freedom' - that's just a bribe.

and to tailor the curriculum to meet his pupils' needs – building on the school's innovative 'team-teaching' approach, with two teachers in every classroom.

So the school changed the curriculum mid-way through an academic year?

Sorry, but that's bollocks - I simply don't believe you. And if it was 'building' on something that means the school was doing it already before it became an academy.


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