Tag Archives: academies

The Independent View: Keep academy freedoms – and extend them to all schools

schoolsignThe question whether to curtail or extend academy freedoms to state-funded schools was resurrected last October in a speech by Nick Clegg. The answer he put forward was to extend academy freedoms to all schools, albeit in a limited form. Clegg would like to claw-back the freedoms academies have over unqualified teachers and the curriculum, but to extend the remaining freedoms to all state-funded schools.

 Clegg’s new-found middle way is based on a belief that guaranteeing high standards in education is best achieved by curtailing autonomy. In October 2013, he said: “There is nothing…inconsistent in believing that greater school autonomy can be married to certain core standards for all.”

 Yet high levels of autonomy and accountability are conducive to high pupil attainment. The Deputy Director for Education and Skills at the OECD, Andreas Schleicher, has said that England’s multiple measures of accountability, along with a “high level of autonomy and discretion at the front line”, are key to success in education.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Education: 47% of Lib Dems want grammar schools opened up, while clear majorities oppose academies, free schools and for-profit schools

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’ve been publishing the full results.

(There were a couple of results I ran out of time to publish during the Christmas holiday period – I’m publishing them this week.)

Almost half (47%) Lib Dems call for opening up of grammar schools to all children

Thinking about grammar schools and schools that select pupils by ability, which of the following best reflects your views?

    21%

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , and | 80 Comments

Nick (finally) makes his education speech and launches the Coalition’s own ‘Champions League’

Five days after it was pre-briefed, Nick Clegg finally made his speech on A Liberal Vision for Education at Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets.

(Morpeth is, by the way, a fantastic school. I visited it for my day-job 18 months ago, and was shown around by two of its pupils, Vanessa and Mahir: the transformational progress of London schools in the past decade is one of the modern wonders of Britain.)

There was little in the speech we didn’t already know. In fact, there was little that wasn’t known last March when Clegg’s “surprise U-turn on free schools” (© …

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Opinion: Pity Gove’s 400?

You may have seen the list of the 400 “worst primaries in England”, according to M. Gove.  If not, you can download it here: Primaries.

I am not about to re-visit the bone of contention that is academy status among Lib Dem colleagues, but I do think we have to look very carefully at the whole issue of forcing schools to become academies–and look at it as Liberal Democrats, who value both devolution of powers and liberalism.

I know that those to the right of the party will say that there is …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

What Lib Dem members think about EBacc, academies and free schools

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum before conference to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Narrow backing for replacing GCSEs with EBacc

LDV asked: Nick Clegg and Michael Gove this week announced that the GCSE exams in England will be replaced by a new qualification in core subjects called the English Baccalaureate Certificate from 2017. This will mean a single end-of-course exam sat by almost all pupils and one exam board for core subjects. From …

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , , and | 9 Comments

Academisation: Is this the equivalent of the FE sector’s 1993 moment?

Academies are opening at an exponential rate. But there’s nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes—we have been here before, if we would all but look. A useful lesson can be learned from the FE sector and begs the questions: how long before all our schools are classified as being in the private sector? And what should we as Liberal Democrats feel and do about that?

Under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (which took effect in April 1993), colleges were “incorporated”, ie they were given full financial independence, together with full powers to own assets, employ staff, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: Gove’s message – “vocational” = “worthless”

Secretary of State for Education, Conservative Michael Gove, has downgraded the value of nearly all 14-16 vocational qualifications at a stroke.  I felt angry when I heard this.  However, it did little to reduce my respect for Mr Gove; I had very little anyway after ‘free’ schools, and his arrogant disregard of the role of Local Authorities to support ‘failing’ schools.

But having thought about this a little more, I am left perplexed by Gove’s decision. The impact goes against so much I thought was accepted wisdom.

Industry has for many years had a

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: We have let neoliberals devastate state education, we must not let them do the same to the NHS

To believe the Government’s hype, we are currently experiencing a liberal revolution in England’s education system – powers are being decentralised, with schools given more autonomy to innovate, while new education providers are adding further diversity to the state funded system by joining it through Academy sponsorship.

The uninitiated could be forgiven for believing Michael Gove’s claim that the evidence base shows the structure of the state funded school system is holding education back, as well as his recent assertion that opponents of Academies are “ideologues”, who uphold a “bigoted backward bankrupt ideology of a leftwing establishment that perpetuates division …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 67 Comments

Opinion: Don’t believe everything you read in the papers…

I’ve learnt again this week that it’s not a good idea to believe everything you read in the papers. In this case, it was a story in the Sunday Telegraph suggesting that the Government were changing the wording of “Academy Funding Agreements” on the teaching of marriage. Thankfully, it turned out to be a non-story.

Academy Funding Agreements are the governing documents for academies and Free Schools and are agreed between the Secretary of State and the governing body of the Academy, and the story suggested there were “strict new rules” about marriage.

However, a bit of digging …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Opinion: Academies overspend revealed!

Figures in a Government consultation paper on the funding of academies have revealed that Michael Gove’s policy of getting schools to convert to academies is expected to cost nearly £600 million more than planned over the two year period 2011 – 2013.
 
This confirms what Lib Dem activists have been saying for some time i.e. that the programme for converting schools to academies is costly and unsustainable, as well as being divisive and unfair.
 
When a school decides to leave its Local Authority (LA)  and become ‘independent’ (i.e. dependent on central government!), in addition to its standard funding it gets an …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 18 Comments

Opinion: It shouldn’t just be about the NHS

As an education campaigner and someone who believes in the principles behind the NHS, I have been following the news about the changes we have managed to make to the health bill with interest, and, obviously, pleasure that we have made a difference.

But when are we going to get our collective heads out of the sand when it comes to the privatisation of state education, where “any willing provider” that we were all so horrified about when proposed in the health bill is already rampaging through the education sector?

It will not be long, believe me, where we are seen as …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 14 Comments

LibLink: Julian Astle – The report every school reformer should read

Over on his blog at The Telegraph, former director of the Centre Forum think tank, Julian Astle, highlights a report by researchers at the London School of Economics looking into the effect of academies. The findings are good news for supporters of greater autonomy for schools, and one of the (perhaps surprising) conclusions of the analysis is that academies don’t just raise standards for the pupils that attend them, but also for surrounding schools, even as they lose pupils to the new academies.

Here’s what the report has to say on that last point, followed by a brief conclusion from Julian:

“In

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

LibLink | Sarah Teather: Q&A on special needs provision

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather recently took part in an interview followed by a readers’ Question and Answer session for the Guardian about special needs provision:

Sarah Teather, the children’s minister, comes across as genuinely passionate about helping children with special needs. So much so that at one point in the interview, she got quite cross. The health service is failing some of our most vulnerable children, she said. The chance of a child receiving speech and language therapy is “between low and nil”, while the wait for a wheelchair can be “really long”, she said.

On free schools and academies helping …

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So how was it for you?

Well fellow Lib Dems, Bloggers and Tweeps… what did you make of conference then? Having been granted the honour of being “Guest Editor” (quaking in me boots it has to be said!) I thought, given the timing, it may be an opportunity to reflect on the last week in Liverpool.

What I want to do is to try and get a feel from members across the spectrum of our party, has conference left them feeling uplifted, confused, motivated, anxious, hopeful, proud?
I hope what follows today, especially for those of you who weren’t there, will give you a bit of …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 27 Comments

Monday will be the day of high drama (or anti-climax) at party conference

Monday, 20th September: nuclear power, free schools and Nick Clegg’s conference speech. Drama, protest and dissension or quiet compromise, careful management and enthusiastic standing ovation?

It’s no coincidence that both potential controversies are scheduled for the same day as Clegg’s speech: in the worst case situation, all the bad news would be be concentrated on the one day and Clegg will still get the final word (or rather, many words) on the day with his speech coming after the possible flashpoints*.

However, it’s unlikely to come to that as the two motions are carefully worded. Nuclear power gets a mention in the …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

LibLink… Shirley Williams on the coalition: Not one bed – two beds

The Guardian today has an interview with Shirley Williams, who at 80, continues to work full-time and is active in questioning the coalition government’s stance on academies, health and Trident:

If you give up what you most care about you start dying. It doesn’t matter what age.

Debate within the coalition on the key issues is a positive thing, insists Williams:

What we have to do is get as much as one possibly can of what Lib Dems believe into the coalition programme. It’s no good simply saying our role is to say no to everything.

Williams admits her surprise that the Liberal Democrats, of whom she was a founder, formed a coalition with the Conservative Party.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , , , and | 8 Comments

Six Lib Dem MPs rebel on Coalition’s Academies Bill

The BBC reports:

MPs have approved legislation which paves the way for a radical overhaul of the school system in England. The Academies Bill, allowing schools to opt out of local council control as early as September, is now due to receive Royal Assent on Tuesday.

However, the Bill sparked a revolt among some Lib Dem MPs, with five defying the whips to back an amendment proposed by Southport MP (and former teacher) John Pugh allowing parents to be balloted if a school governor objected it to becoming an academy.

The five Lib Dems who supported John’s amendment were Annette Brooke …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Get your facts right Polly

In yesterday’s Guardian Polly Toynbee criticises “casual law-making by arbitrary diktat” in relation to the unseemly haste with which the Academies Bill is being shunted through the Commons. She claims the bill was “catapulted” through the Lords (where, by the way, we debated it for a full 31 hours!) and that there is now “no revising chamber: a redundant House of Lords whipped this Bill through with as little scrutiny as it will get in the Commons”. Wrong!

Far from being redundant, the House of Lords obtained five important amendments and numerous significant statements on the record, one of them …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Opinion: we have our own red lines for schools

I will try and write about the Coalition without any reference to ‘uncharted waters’ or ‘interesting times’. Someone has to.

To begin with I was pleasantly surprised when I read the Culture, Media and Sport sections of the full agreement: more or less what I had wanted but without some of the policies I had criticised in our own manifesto. I can live with the ‘reduction in red tape for live music’ although I still believe we need to concentrate on opportunities for new bands.

My worries are in fact in a different area: academies. I didn’t like this policy before the …

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

Opinion: Tory school plans will give parents nightmares

Monday’s Today Programme on Radio 4 majored on local government.

It was the usual shambles. We were told that local authorities were expecting to make cuts in services – hardly news. One reporter told us that libraries were not used by many people – in fact had she spent ten minutes on research she would have discovered that libraries are visited by half the adult population each year. This makes libraries far more popular than any if not all of the sporting events on which the BBC lavishes time and our money each year.

Another reporter told us that local authorities …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmalc 18th Apr - 1:06am
    Thomas Robinson: Fair point and one it's hard to argue with. Also the UK has military base's in Cyprus, Germany, Holland, Gibraltar, Norway etc. Perhaps...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 18th Apr - 12:56am
    Here's Simon Jenkins's piece: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/16/janus-faced-george-osborne-defied-stereotype-triumphed
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 18th Apr - 12:53am
    The questions about austerity are obsolete. Simon Jenkins has pointed out that Osborne's tough talk is just verbal cover for a policy which includes plenty...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 18th Apr - 12:46am
    That was Balls and Osborne...
  • User AvatarShirley Campbell 18th Apr - 12:40am
    Yes, David-1, it should: David-1 14th Apr '14 - 10:00pm A horrible device whose possession and use should be illegal. I note that Shami Chakrabarti...
  • User AvatarShirley Campbell 18th Apr - 12:36am
    Yes, David-1, it should: David-1 14th Apr '14 - 10:00pm A horrible device whose possession and use should be illegal. I note that Shami Chakrabarti...