Academies and our Children
The scrutiny committee of Children, Education and Families covers a lot of areas and issues as the title suggests. One of the areas discussed at today’s meeting was School Academies. Like it or not, since the Academies Bill came into law a school can become one if it meets the standard and the Head and Governors agree (they do not need parents permission). This means once an Academy, it is out of the control of the Local Authority (LA), which is Cornwall Council.
Academy Schools are State Funded (directly) independent schools. If a school is an Academy it is outside the Local Authority and a separate legal entity. The school premises and land are transferred or leased to the Academy. All staff are directly employed by the Academy.
Where as Local Authority Maintained School receive their funding direct from the Local Authority (Council), follow the National Curriculum and are regularly inspected by Ofsted. There are four types of school under the LA. These are Community Schools, Foundation and Trust Schools, Voluntary-aided Schools and Voluntary-controlled Schools.
Putting aside if you think they are a good idea, or bad, I thought I would give you the numbers on how many schools are now Academies, the types of schools which have, and the number of children taken out of directly controlled education. Currently in Cornwall there are 31 Secondary Schools and 236 Primary School that were until recently under the control of the Local Authority.
On the 11th August there are now 30 less schools that receive their funding direct from the Government. This is further broken-down of 12 Secondary Schools, 14 Primary Schools and 2 Junior Schools. A further nine schools will become Academies by the end of 2011 and a further seven could become Academies in the first quarter of 2012. This of course does not include any further applications.
This means 19,098 or 28% of our children are currently in education in independent schools.
This leaves 221 schools under the LA. If these schools all stay, then this is a good number especially when funding is concerned. However, when a school becomes an Academy the LA loses the funding for this school, as it goes straight to the new Academy. The real danger is the more money taken out of the LA schools budget the less there is for the rest. As you see the LA money is shared amongst all the schools, but less money in the pot some schools could be unaffordable to run; this is especially true of the smaller schools that generally get more money per head than the larger schools.
Personally, I am quite worried about Academies because I fear a two-tiered education system, especially when an Academy will be allowed to set its own curriculum, admission policy and will not be subject to LA inspection. This last point is worrying, because you would have to go via the Sec of State for Education if you have any problem with the school that cannot be solved by the Head, or Governors.