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Save Our Schools objects to plans for a Louth Academy

February 9th 2011

Four local schools and a college have proposed merging to create one large academy for the Louth area. Cordeaux, Monks' Dyke, Tennyson school in Mablethorpe, Birkbeck school in North Somercotes and the Wolds College would join to form the new academy.

Now people have formed a campaign group, Save Our Schools, because they are worried the move would have a detrimental effect on local education. Sarah Dodds, a teacher, has organised a Facebook group to highlight the issues.

Concerns

A school merger seems on the face of it to be a good way to make some efficiency savings and to set a uniform standard for teaching. But there's actually a lot more involved in moving a school to academy status. These are a few of the group's concerns:

  • Academies are placed in the control of private sector sponsors. But does business have a place in running a successful school? Businesses are driven by profits, so what is to prevent them from selling school assets or arranging exclusive contracts to provide the schools with their own products or services? Who would be the sponsor for the Louth academy?

  • Academies attract additional funding of around 300- 500 per pupil. But that comes at the cost of all the services they currently get from the Local Educational Authority: building support, occupational health, payroll and pensions, library, music, interfaith and outdoor education services, curriculum support, legal services, governor support, risk management, insurance, special needs support, education welfare, and many more. It's a long list, and the new academy would have to buy these in. LEAs have experience and economies of scale when it comes to providing these services. Also, what happens to the more expensive pupils when they run over budget?

  • There is no independent evidence that moving to academy status will raise educational standards.

  • The proposals include the prospect of pupils and teachers travelling between sites. This can be time-consuming and disruptive, and it erodes the amount of face-to-face contact between staff and pupils. It's also expensive. Will parents be obliged to foot the bill for this extra travel?

  • The NUT opposes the creation of academies because of their effect on teachers' pay and conditions. Pay scales are often more uneven. "On average, in 2007-08 and 2008-09 there were 50 per cent more senior leaders per school earning over 80,000 in the academies sector than in maintained secondary schools" according to a National Audit Office report (PDF). Meanwhile some existing academies ask their staff to put in much longer working hours.

  • At the moment each school has its own board of governors, with representation from teachers and parents. An academy would have only one board, and the legal requirement is for only one parent governor. That's a significant loss of representation and accountability.

  • Should the Louth schools merge, parents would be faced with considerably less choice about where to send their children.



That's an overview of some of the main issues, but if you have questions Sarah Dodds has information packs with more details, or you can join the group.



 


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