The Guardian reports that i is becoming hard to find important education news these days; between Brexit, Trump and the latest parliamentary scandals it would have to be a significant storm or reform to break through to the public.
Which is why an interesting story about the Sandown Bay academy on the Isle of Wight was barely noticed. This school, which opened as a new academy in 2011, appears to have been virtually run into the ground by one of the largest academy trusts.
With a falling roll, weak standards and chronic financial issues, it was placed in special measures earlier this year amid calls for its sponsor, the Academies Enterprise Trust, to be driven off the island.
None of this is exceptional but what happened next, in its small way, certainly is. The Sandown Bay academy, with the support of a Tory-led council, a Conservative MP and the Department for Education, is being closed, then merged with a local primary into an all-through council-run school. The Isle of Wight children’s services are now run by the high-performing Hampshire county council. In this solitary outpost, the academy movement finally ran out of road.
In the last 20 years, academisation has consumed a huge amount of educational policy bandwidth and probably been the most contentious reform of the postwar years. Yet today, two-thirds of schools are still non-academy, mainly because most primaries have chosen to remain within their local authorities.
The competitive schools market means it isn’t only students who get offloaded these days. Whole chains of schools are being cast aside while others are dubbed “orphans” because they are homeless and no one wants to take them on. Which takes us back to the Isle of Wight and whether we are now coming full circle.
However bad some local authorities were, and some did fail their schools completely, they at least had a moral and legal responsibility to try and maintain local schools and places to a sufficient standard.
Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, is right that parents don’t really care who runs their schools. But they do care when things go wrong – it was a highly effective parent campaign that saw off AET on the Isle of Wight
Read the full article Take heart – the monstrous academy system is running out of road
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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