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David Blunkett and school academies and why?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by TCSC47, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    Just been listening to BBC radio 4 program on David Blunkett which can be found at

    I'll have to listen to it again but Blunkett seemed to skirt almost completely over his role in setting up academies when he was education minister, which the Torys, of course, then picked up and ran with big time.

    But it brought back all my memories. I have never understood the reason for academies at any level at all, apart from the fact that it was stated blind dogma of the conservative party. I have always thought of Blair as excessively influenced by Thatcher, but I was mystified by my own political party, the Libdems, support for academies under their shadow educational minister, the disgraced David Laws. It led to my leaving the party.

    Now that we know what a mess academies are making of so many schools and childrens' education and how unscrupulous educationalists are using them to pay themselves immoral amounts of money, ---
    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jul/22/academy-schools-scandal-failing-trusts ----
    can anybody remember what the original reasons for academies were?
    nizebaby, nomad and StarbucksCovfefe like this.
  2. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    I seem to remember that they were set up to take the running of failing schools away from LEAs that were seen as not being prepared to give the teachers in such schools the kicking they needed. But that is just my memory and could be totally wrong.
    JohnJCazorla, TCSC47 and emerald52 like this.
  3. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I think the real reasons, the unspoken ones, are exactly as in bold above. It was about siphoning off public money to private pockets.
    nizebaby, InkyP and TCSC47 like this.
  4. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    @racroesus is correct. They were meant as an way of rescuing failing schools not privatising the whole education system.
    grumpydogwoman and nomad like this.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    The Tories under Thatcher, and, it seems, Labour under Blair, didn't trust the LEAs and used Academies as a way of undermining the LEAs...Plus, they thought, a way of getting money into education (though actually they've cost more than they brought in...like most privatisations...)
    TCSC47 likes this.
  6. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    That is what I thought, but I couldn't understand it from a labour government and from Blunkett who appeared to actually passionate about education. And where was the logic?

    And for the life of me, why was nobody, meaning the media in particular, but also the Libdems, or even here in the early days, able to see what was going on and produce a decent argument against them?
  7. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    The only educationalist who I personally spoke to who thought academies were a good thing was an ex headteacher and ex ofsted inspector who was an arrogant so and so and involved in the board (is that we call them?) of one of these MATs. Every other teacher I have ever known and spoken to has simply rolled their eyes. And he blamed Nottingham LEA who he worked under. But then he would wouldn't he. And in any case, look at the mess they have got themselves into due to the Tory cuts. https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/city-council-record-levels-debt-1144814

    Why just have a go at education?
  8. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

  9. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I thought they were originally set up to give outstanding schools the opportunity to go it alone - and, presumably, become 'beyond outstanding' - vomit - by being innovative, etc.

    Why they needed to become academies in order to do this, I'm not sure.

    In hindsight, we know what 'innovative' means with reference to academies.
    grumpydogwoman and TCSC47 like this.
  10. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter


    It came down to a fundamental mistrust of local accountability. For Labour too many Local Authorities were under Tory control and wouldn't take [what they saw] as the necessary action. So the Academies programme was in many respects a political gambit to circumvent Tory local government domination.

    This is certainly true for my area which saw one of the earliest Academies established in the face of opposition from the Tory run council.

    Blair was a middle management type. He saw Ofsted and the Academy programme as tools for imposing that approach upon the education system [and most likely the NHS but I don't know as much there]. So we saw the growth of SLT, salary inflation at the top end etc. All to reflect the ideas of business in education. To Blair and many others, business is king. And business is king, in business. But when the systems and techniques of business are applied to education, social services, the NHS, those techniques appear to invariably fail.

    Ah that's my thoughts...
  11. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    It wasn't just the Tories.It is true Thatcher shut down more grammars than anyone else, but academies multiplied after Labour got in. My local town had all 'normal' LEA type schools that ALL became academies sometime between 2000-2014.
    I hate the idea of 'specialist' colleges too. Why not Sometown High School? Is Sometown Drama and Engineering College not a secondary school? Why SHOULD it specialise? Let students who want to go to a specialist Drama/Tech or whatever college go when they're 16, and just let our 11-16 year olds have good, ordinary local secondaries that care about every subject equally!

    No doubt someone will now criticise me for wanting Bog standard comprehensives as we used to have. Shock horror, I also want decent conditions and pay for staff and a commitment to making schools the kind of places which have long-serving, experienced, happy staff.

    And all SMT should be experienced, caring teachers.

    OK, I'll get back in my 80s box.
  12. henrycreswicke

    henrycreswicke Occasional commenter

  13. henrycreswicke

    henrycreswicke Occasional commenter

    Bang on!
    TCSC47 likes this.
  14. StarbucksCovfefe

    StarbucksCovfefe Occasional commenter

    My memory could be failing me, but I believe I was working in the very first Boris Johnson academy (or one of two that opened together I believe). I recall it was sold on the idea that it was purely about money, that academies would bring money that the council/government didnt have, that would save the school.

    I was given all of the new paperwork.....new management documents. I quit.
  15. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Labour introduced academies - but only a few schools met the criteria to become academies.

    The Tories moved the goal posts a number of times, to encourage ALL schools to academise. Indeed, it almost became law that they should do so, until a number of Tory LAs and councillors with many good LA schools kicked up a stink.
    TCSC47 likes this.
  16. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    This makes a lot of sense to me, Lan, in trying to understand how such a, to me, silly idea of academies came about. What disappointed me, and still does, is that nobody could either see this at the time or was prepared to make a fuss about it.

    To add, it did not surprise me that Blunkett did not want to talk about academies in his interview.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  17. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    I will give Blunkett along with Brown, credit for Sure Start though.

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