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Do academies "give control back to teachers"?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Grandsire, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    This may look like a long lead in, but bear with me for a moment - I'm confused and need help.

    Here's a bit of what Nicky Morgan said on Mumsnet the other day:

    "...We need to put our trust into the hands of the people that know best how to run our schools - the teachers - and the academy system does just that. It gives schools greater autonomy to make the decisions that are right for their community and pupils. After all, we have the finest generation of teachers ever and being part of an academy helps put the power back in their hands..."

    And here's a quote from the BBC website this evening:

    "...The government argues that academies, which operate outside of local authorities, can use their greater autonomy to raise standards. "Pupils are already benefiting hugely from the academies programme and thanks to our reforms more of them than ever before are going to good or outstanding schools, meaning more parents can access a good school place for their children." said a Department for Education spokesman. "The changes we are making will put control back in the hands of teachers and school leaders - those who know their pupils best - making sure every single child has the opportunity to fulfil their potential..."

    But I've also read this excellent blog which said this:

    Anyone doubting the lack of autonomy for individual academies under the new system need only listen to the people who run them. Take Mark Ducker, executive principal of Step Academy Trust, a chain of seven South London primaries. “We need to have standard operational procedure in terms of teaching and learning,” he told TES last year. “Our curriculum needs to be very similar across the group, and our teaching style and our assessment system.” That is control over individual schools beyond anything that local authorities would have dared do at the height of their powers – it is control over actual pedagogy. Forget autonomy over the curriculum, a growing number of academies are no longer able to decide how to teach it. Sir Michael Wilkins, chief executive of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, an MAT of 15 academies based in Wakefield, recently told TES: “We run it like one big school. The principals are more like heads of departments.” The model allows him to quickly pull “levers”, enabling the instant spread of good practice across its schools. But it is not how ministers have sold academies...

    See my problem? THAT doesn't sound like autonomy to me. It doesn't sound as though the teachers have any say in either what they teach, how they teach or - as suggested in the rest of the blog (well worth reading, BTW) - possibly even where they teach. It's control certainly, but not by the teachers or even the principals - it seems as though it all comes down to the executive at the top of the greasy pole.

    So I've got two questions:

    Firstly, is there anyone working in an academy (and here I mean actual classroom teachers, not leaders / business managers etc. or anyone with 'executive' in their job description) who can tell us all how autonomous, empowered and in-control they now feel?

    Secondly, is it possible that, in the same way she doesn't know what 11 x 12 is, Nicky Morgan just doesn't understand the difference in meaning between 'autonomous' and 'autocratic'?
    Geoff Thomas likes this.
  2. Malaguena

    Malaguena New commenter

    Nicky Morgan doesn't know the difference between her ass and her elbow unless Mr Cameron has told her where they are recently. MATs are one big school, I agree with you and the blogger
    emerald52, aspen_1, Anonymity and 3 others like this.
  3. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    It gives heads autonomy to do what the hell they like.
    install likes this.
  4. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    If Cameron's ass/elbow differentiation skills were that great he'd have mentioned it to his chum Osborne before the budget - another Tory shambles.
  5. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    a good way to pay bosses more and workers less. Good Tory dogma
  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Did you read the quotations? No, it doesn't, that's the point.

    "Sir Michael Wilkins, chief executive of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, an MAT of 15 academies based in Wakefield, recently told TES: “We run it like one big school. The principals are more like heads of departments.”
  7. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    From experience- No control whatsoever.

    Key words to indicate this in a schools propaganda to look for are "non-negotiables", dynamic....

    At almost every staff meeting there was another thing introduce/lead.

    There is no discussion at all. At staff meetings only one view had any validity at all- SLT's.

    Table based discussions often had an SLT member planted on them- any comments that did not follow the party line made the proponent a target to be viewed as a potential trouble maker.

    My downfall was using the word "orthoscopic" in context of reading delays/ difficulties. I don't think the SLT member had any idea what I was on about.

    There was no dictionary on site with the word in and with the internet down across the school....

    Any way getting back to the OP- no

    install likes this.
  8. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    OK, but it depends on the set up.

    Maybe I am bitter about this but my last Head introduced more and more work for staff to do with little regard for the views of the staff. Teachers certainly had no autonomy.
    schoolsout4summer likes this.
  9. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    That was and still is possible without academy status!
  10. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    maybe the op should ask in the active forums like primary and secondary and see what responses he gets?
  11. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    I thought it would be simpler in the academy system since they would likely change all terms and conditions or they are agreed when you start working in one. More importantly it may make it easier to introduce the money saving measures required to perform within budget on a reduced funding regime... would it not?
  12. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    serfdom-pic.jpeg Academies give more control to Executive Heads. Not always for the better. Classroom teachers have their conditions erroded.
    1 person likes this.
  13. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Nearly liked that in agreement Yoda although that would have been an inaccurate representation of my views on the matter... so will settle for "agree with greatest regret", since in my experience those at the coalface so to speak *deliberate reference to dying UK industry... often know best and even if they don't know the answers are often more familiar with the details of the challenges than anyone else further up the chain of command.
  14. Math-Worksheets-Galore

    Math-Worksheets-Galore Occasional commenter

    Overrated and over-paid - Executive Heads. Sit back in their expensive suits and laud over the poorer paid staff (the actual teachers, those who educate under a leader/s who have little or no experience of teaching and who are damn good at shuffling papers on their desks ...)
    install likes this.
  15. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Actually, I don't mind if the executives heads have no experience of teaching, we don't expect our hospital administrators to be doctors do we? But I would expect them to listen to those at the sharp end and act in the best interests of the students. But as with all private enterprise, the prime duty of a commercial outfit is to return a dividend to its shareholders rather than put its customers first.
  16. JessicaRabbit1

    JessicaRabbit1 Senior commenter

    I used to work in a Primary school that is run by a MAT that owns a fair few schools in the East of England and I'm afraid I really cannot tell you all this. What I can describe is how I came close to losing my mental and physical health due to the stress of working for these people. How we were all constantly told that we had to do more/better/work smarter not harder/demand excellence of ourselves every day blah blah blah. No-one felt empowered; we felt scared most days. This includes SLT by the way; they clearly had no choice in what was demanded of them by the academy Executives. I left in December last year and since then 4 more classroom teachers have left, with another 3 leaving at the end of the academic year. The school is in ruins. The Head has been sacked.

    Do hospital administrators come round whilst surgeons are performing surgery and observe (sometimes up to 4 times a day) and then provide the surgeon with a long list of areas for improvement? I genuinely don't know - but I do know that I took exception to being observed by academy Execs that hadn't taught in a classroom for decades. This lie being peddled by Morgan about academies giving control to teachers makes my blood boil; it is so far from the truth it's a joke and I am telling everyone I know who is not a teacher how badly they are being lied to by the government.
  17. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I worked in the health service for 7 years before going to university and I never saw an administrator! They lived in the admin block and never came near and let those with the clinical skills get on with it. There again, I never had a lesson observation for the first 11 years of my teaching career, we were all trusted to do a good job. I sympathise with you and I am appalled by your treatment at the hands of the academy execs but as I pointed out in an earlier post on this thread these are the results of privatisation.
  18. diamondjane

    diamondjane Occasional commenter

  19. diamondjane

    diamondjane Occasional commenter

    This is exactly how it was for me Jessica - and I was on the SLT. The Head went off with stress twice and then chose to leave (before being pushed I guess). We had to do everything 'their way' or it was deemed wrong, requires improvement, inadequate whatever. I was ill for 7 months and then chose to leave before I suffered any more damage. None of the SLT and in fact very few of the teaching staff from before academy conversion are still there. The school is still deemed to be requires improvement by ofsted. I may be biased but I still blame the academy system for everything that happened to me - the Head and Deputy were also collateral damage

    Apologies for the double post. Still learning :)
  20. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Well there you have it folks. One bad egg in a school may cause a local stink but a bad egg in an academy chain can turn the whole lot rotten. Where is the safeguard for our children against this ?

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