Saturday 29 September 2012

Does Labour support Adonis's academies policy?

During the Brent Education Debate, when Melissa Benn was expressing optimism about Labour's Policy Review producing a better policy on academies and free schools, and some faith that Stephen Twigg was clarifying his position, I said, "What about Lord Adonis?"

I thought I should explain.  Andrew Adonis, former Labour schools minister,  wrote an article in the New Statesman on September 14th LINK entitled Beyond Our Berlin Wall about the division between state and private education. His ideas are a long way from the support for the public sector and an accountable local schools network that were being expressed in our debate.

Adonis states:
It is academies that are systematically eradicating failing comprehensives, And academies - as independent state schools - are the vehicles by which private schools can become systematically engaged in establishing and running state-funded schools.
Explaining  how private schools should sponsor academies, he says:
I don't just mean advice and assistance, the loan of playing fields and the odd teacher or joint activity... I mean the private school or foundation taking complete responsibility for the governance and leadership of an academy or academies and staking their reputation on their success, as they do on the success of their fee-paying schools.
Taking for granted the superiority and success of academies and free schools, Adonis ignores fundamental issues such as selection, funding and small class sizes, as well as democratic accountability The day after the debate I took a class of children from a local private primary school to Fryent Country Park. There were 17 in the class; last year there were just 12. In contrast both community primary schools visiting that week had classes of 30. Is Adonis proposing that private school sponsored academies should have funding and class sizes to match their sponsors?

The New Statesman had a special reader offer of Adonis's new book, "Education, Education, Education", signed and with a "personalised inscription" at a special reduced rate of £8 (rrp £12.99). Somehow it seems to sum up Labour's confused position.

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