The Tory government has repeatedly outlined plans for every single school in England to become an academy by 2022. An academy, for those unfamiliar, is a state school not under the local education authority. They are often run by chains funded by wealthy backers and were originally introduced to prop up failing schools. The first school in Sheffield to become an academy (in 2006) was a school in a very rough area with a very bad reputation. Incidents of violent bullying were common (one girl had her hair set on fire, whereas another had her face slashed). When it became an academy, its reputation improved. So did that of many other inner city schools. So the Government thought it would be handy to encourage non-failing schools to join the scheme.
So now we have more than half of all English secondary schools being academies and a growing number of primaries joining the scheme. In some towns (Bournemouth, Swindon and Doncaster being examples) all secondary schools are academies. The LEAs there are responsible only for a dwindling number of primary schools. It’s plain to see that the Tories are planning to cut education costs by eventually abolishing LEAs, hypocritcally while sending their children to expensive public schools. Without LEAs, thousands of children will be in the hands of people not fit to run a school. The horror stories of chain heads running off with the money will only increase once every school is an academy. And then, obviously the schools will close, causing neighbouring schools to become overcrowded and contribute to an inadequate learning environment.
Academies are not bound by the National Curriculum. Freedom of education, I hear you say. Isn’t that a good thing? Maybe so, but academies can theoretically abuse this to insert their own politics into their curriculum. Now I’m not saying the National Curriculum isn’t a propaganda machine, but take the rumours (albeit denied by the head) that one Christian academy chain is teaching young earth creationism instead of evolution and you’ll see why centralised guidance is better for everyone.
Academies are also free to charge fees, even in working-class areas where many people would be unable to afford them. Let’s say there’s a working-class area with two schools. One charges fees and is in a central location, whereas one doesn’t but is at the other side of the area. It would be unfair to the pupils who couldn’t afford to go to the central school to walk a far further distance every day just to get an education! Low-income parents are already struggling to pay for uniforms in which every little item must be bought direct from the school (in the name of “equality” apparently, even though very few 11 year olds can tell the difference between Sainsburys trousers and Gucci ones), but that’s another story.
In conclusion, the academy system will hurt English education. Parents are voicing outrage over it and have been for some time, but the Tories, as usual, are only listening to the sound of their own farts.