Saturday, 26 March 2016


From the BBC

The government could be forced to retreat on plans to compel every school in England to become an academy because of an emerging broad-based opposition, the National Union of Teachers claims.
The union's leader Christine Blower said there could be a rapid reversal, as happened with disability payments.

OK, I'm not sure academies make much difference. I think they're a typical bit of New Labour/Cameronite private-but-not-really. I think they're deliberately rigging selection to keep out the "worst" pupils. On the plus side, I think giving schools more power rather than having to deal with local authority bureaucracy is probably a good thing.

But I don't understand what the NAS/UWT have against them. I mean, I would get it if they said that academies are terrible, and we should scrap all of them, but they aren't. They think there's many good academy schools. So, what's the problem? Or is there something that affects the direct interests of teachers (which let's be honest, most union opposition is really about)?


Antisthenes said...

You worry me. You are not sure if getting from under bureaucratic control is a good thing and whether the reasons for teacher opposition is for the wrong reason. Surely it is a no brainer. Bureaucracy costly diverting resources away from the front line and the heavy hand of interference. Teachers wanting to hang onto their rights, privileges, bad practices and jobs they have made cushy with the help of their unions and progressives. Putting themselves before those they teach. Like all public sector bodies employees can make their own rules whereas in the private sector they cannot. So I think the answer is a clear as day.

Bayard said...

I had a conversation with someone who was a director of a company that ran an academy or two and I asker her what she had done to improve the schools her comapany had "taken over". To my surprise her answer was that the biggest factor was improving staff morale.

If this is not an isolated case, then it does suggest that one of the things the union has against academies is that, in the absence of disgruntled teachers, they have much less of a role to play. I have long been a believer that "excessive" union influence in the workplace is almost entirely down to piss-poor management, so this would fit in nicely with my prejudices.

paulc156 said...

Are they arguing against academies? I thought they were only arguing against the forced academisation of schools, even against the will of the parents and teaching staff at a school.
They are in principle against the setting of rates of pay at individual school level.
My wife works at an east London school which has excellent academic standards and rejected the opportunity to academise a couple of years ago. The head valued the support offers by the local authorities and preferred to concentrate his efforts on improving teaching and behaviour of pupils. You don't need to academise fir that.

Mark Wadsworth said...

A receptionist where work who is not political in the slightest said that this was a fucking outrage. She had been receptionist at three academies and said they were across the board awful, with the most junior i.e. cheapest teachers, most money wasted on fancy facilities and most violence in the playground.

Mark Wadsworth said...

… she also said that they have no sort of admissions policy whatsoever, they get paid per pupil, so they'll take anybody, however appalling his or her record at other schools.

Bayard said...

"I thought they were only arguing against the forced academisation of schools, even against the will of the parents and teaching staff at a school."

Yup, that would be a completely different kettle of fish, but totally in line with the increasing totalitarianism of our governments of whatever colour.

Mark, I'd be very surprised if it wasn't the case that there were good academies and bad academies and that there were not unscrupulous types who sort to enrich themselves by exploiting government political dogma. Nor would I be at all surprised to learn that the successful academies are the ones that all the pols focus on whilst quietly sweeping the failures under the carpet. All that I would conclude is that it is just another demonstration that the state is seldom any good at procurement, there are just too many opportunities for corruption, both financial and political.

The Stigler said...

I'm just asking. I'm rather skeptical of non-market solutions and how much difference they make, and academies don't seem to me to actually be like a market.

That sounds suspect to me. Academies perform very well. If they had the most violence they wouldn't be performing like they are.

That "schools individually negotiating pay" sounds like the winner. That means that people don't need unions to negotiate pay, that means they don't need unions so much.

One of the problems, according to FullFact is that it's mostly successful schools that convert, and these show a little performance improvement, but this "academies perform better" is mostly that they were good schools before.