Academies – government plans no longer compulsory. Expert reactions

The government has announced changes to its plans for every school to become an academy. NEW expert reaction to academy u-turn from Professor Stephen Gorard, School of Education, Durham University:

“This is welcome but not very surprising given the level of opposition, the lack of evidence that academies are any better than the schools they replace, and the growing concern about who has oversight of schools. Since academies are no better (or worse in themselves) than community schools, but run the risks from lack of national co-ordination of supply and local co-operation in delivery, this change of policy is appropriate and to be welcomed.

However, in other respects it leaves England with a problem that there will continue to be a splintered and diverse school system. The taxpayer funded school system is a legal obligation for all and so it ought to be truly universal. The type of education available should not vary with where one lives any more than the rate of tax varies. Everyone is entitled to the best form of education. If that best format were academies then all schools should be academies. Since academies are not better, the one type of school in England should be something else – probably non-selective, secular, all-age, comprehensive schools.

The latter type of school is supported by considerable national and international evidence that it is better for the system as a whole. ”

See, for example, Gorard, S. and See, BH. (2013) Overcoming disadvantage in education, London: Routledge, ISBN 978-0415536899, 224 pages

Expert reaction on the u-turn to the academy policy from Professor Becky Francis, King’s College London:

“This change will be welcomed with relief by a hard pressed sector. The demand for full academisation of the primary sector, especially, presented significant challenges and risks. A more evolutionary, democratic and evidence based approach to system change is clearly preferable.”

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