Dear Damian Hinds, your academy policy is whim and dogma

was riffling through some news reports on education the other day and came across something that must have shocked you to your core. Your permanent secretary at the Department for Education, Jonathan Slater, was up before the Commons public accounts committee. I can well imagine you were keen to know what was said, and even keener to know if your own permanent secretary was on-side with what you Tories have been doing in education for the past eight years. Michael Rosen, a writer and broadcaster who has produced many books for children writes in The Guardian. 

The Labour MP Gareth Snell asked your guy: “Is there any evidence that rescuing underperforming schools via forced academisation provides better value for money than a rescue package inside the local authority?”

This is a question many of us have been asking for years, particularly in the hundreds of schools where parents and teachers have opposed forced academisation, (though I see in the press that the government is now soft-pedalling on forcing schools). Parents, teachers, pupils, ex-pupils and indeed the whole country is entitled to know whether this flagship policy has done what it set out to do, and whether other methods could have been used at much less cost.

First he tried a bit of jousting: “It’s pretty difficult, isn’t it, looking at the counter-factual [of] what would have happened [with no conversion]?”

To translate: he has no way of proving that turning a school into an academy was or is a fail-safe way of improving it, nor whether a failing school could have been improved without conversion.

Let us remind ourselves of the huge upheaval, time, effort and cost of converting hundreds of schools, and your chief wallah can’t commit himself to say that it was worth it.

I expect that the moment you read about this exchange you leapt into action, banning all future forced academisations, putting out a memo to all schools warning them that turning their school into an academy is no guarantee that it will improve, and that you deeply regret the draconian actions of your predecessor, Michael Gove, in forcing so many schools down this path.

Yours, Michael Rosen

Read the full article Dear Damian Hinds, your academy policy is whim and dogma

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Categories: 1st POST, Academies, Ofsted, Primary and Secondary.


  1. wasateacher

    My comment on the article:
    1. The Government has written off £7+ million of academy debts (more since this article was written
    2. In 2017 one estimate of the cost of transferring academies from one trust to another was put at £30 millions.
    3. In Feb 18 it was reported that the cost of converting schools to academies was £745 million
    4. In Nov 17 the TES reported that £100 million had been paid to “free” school advisors.
    5. For the last year there have been around 40 academy trusts which have been issued with financial notices to improve, some go back years.

    All this might be worth it if there was an improvement in standards BUT:

    According to Ofsted schools improve 6 times faster if they are lea maintained schools than if they become sponsored academies
    This link is to just some of the stories and evidence.

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