Answering Conor Ryan on the academies

Read Melissa Benn’s blog post answer, on the Public Finance website, to a piece by Conor Ryan, former adviser to Tony Blair and David Blunkett, concerning the academies:

In his last PF blog, Conor Ryan suggests that union opposition to academies is based largely on uncertainty about performance; oh, and just a smidgen of carping self-interest and general negativity.

But might much unease about these so-called shiny new schools stem instead from a firm belief in certain principles plus a wish to see all schools, and not just a chosen few, prosper?

Yes, some academies, such as Mossbourne in Hackney, have performed very well in this year’s GCSEs. But, as Ryan acknowledges, others are seriously struggling. Either way, this is a programme that has attracted significantly higher funding, and national political backing, than other equivalent schools.

Many community schools do just as well as the new academies and could do far better still with similar resources and – arguably even more important – the confidence of government. They would all benefit from a measure of operational autonomy enjoyed by the academies, particularly in regard to provision of the curriculum.

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