Thursday, 22 September 2016

Will Ark get into the Secondary Modern business?

Guest blog by Ray Singh-Standids

In 2014 Copland School was taken out of local authority control and forced to become an academy.  The reason given was that Copland, (a school whose staff and students had suffered a unique period of  mismanagement and corruption which resulted in the sacking of the governing body and criminal charges against the headteacher and his management team), was judged to be a ‘failing school’.  The consequence of this judgement was forced academisation, a move which parents, staff and students voted against but which Cllrs Pavey and Butt publicly supported. 

In 2014, Copland’s last year, 46% of students obtained  5 GCSE subjects including English and Maths at grades A*-C . This followed improvements of 3 percentage points for each of the previous 2 years despite this  being a period in which senior management was helping the police with their enquiries and Ofsted inspectors and other nuisances constantly cluttered up the classrooms hampering  the continuity and flow of the educational experience of staff and students.

Copland was forced to become  Ark Elvin Academy  in September 2014. By the end of Ark Elvin’s  first year the headline 5 GCSE figure had dropped from 46% to 36%. For  2016 the figure is apparently  an even more dismal 31%. Those figures again:
2012  Copland School            5 A*-C  inc English and Maths       40%
2013  Copland School            5 A*-C  inc English and Maths       43%
2014  Copland School            5 A*-C  inc English and Maths       46%
2015  Ark Elvin Academy       5 A*-C   inc English and Maths       36%
2016  Ark Elvin Academy       5 A*-C   inc English and Maths       31%

If Copland was judged to be ‘failing’ at a 5 GCSE rate of 46%, what does that make Ark Academies’ effort of 31% only 2 years later? Ark would no doubt blame the 31% results on Copland’s teaching in earlier years. But that doesn’t stand up as Copland’s 46%  was achieved in those exact same  circumstances (arguably worse circumstances, in fact,  as Copland’s 46% students hadn’t had the benefit of Ark Academies’ claimed excellence at ‘driving up standards’).

So, what’s to be done, Cllrs Pavey and Butt must surely be asking themselves.   When comprehensives ‘fail’ they’re  forced  to become academies, (with your enthusiastic support, Cllrs Butt and Pavey). But Ark Elvin already is an academy. So when an academy ‘fails’  you’ve got a problem.  Do you turn it back into a local authority comprehensive? Not allowed, I’m afraid. But don’t worry, Cllrs,  the Tories  have come up with another wheeze to help you  out. Theresa May has said she’s going to bring back grammar schools (for the very small percentage who pass the 11 plus exam). But for every one grammar school she brings back, (though she hasn’t said this), she’ll have to bring back three  secondary modern schools  for the very large percentage who fail the 11 plus.  And that’s where Ark Elvin comes in. Those sharp hedge fund billionaires who run Ark Academies Inc  know a business opportunity when they see one  and are probably already making plans for this one.  Expect the Ark Secondary Moderns ‘charity’ to be announced within weeks with Ark Elvin as the flagship model (after due consultation, of course) . Problem solved. Tories to the rescue again, just like last time! And don’t worry,  Cllrs Butt and Pavey.  You liked forced academisation so you’re going to love forced secondary modernisation!   Magna Aude! (Or Big German Car  as we’ll probably have to change the motto to for the sake of  those secondary modern duffers).


Nan. said...

With those woeful results, it would be be great if Ark could just manage to get itself into the secondary business!

Anonymous said...

The current London Review of Books has a very interesting article about Ark here:
Funnily enough, given this guest blog, it refers to Ark as ‘a privately controlled chain of academies, whose exam results are … held up as an example to struggling local authority schools’.
The article sets out the links between the following: Amanda Spielman (head of Ofsted from next January) who is herself an ex-Ark corporate finance and management consultancy specialist, tax avoiding offshore companies, Tory party donors, American companies making big money from selling schools data software and automated learning packages (fewer teachers=bigger profits), Pearson, the 2008 crash, dodgy financial dealings and the new Pioneer Academy opening in Barnet soon. It's worth a read.

Anonymous said...

You can't fault Barnet Ark's equal ops ethos, though. They describe themselves as 'a non-selective all-through school for 3-19 year olds' so they obviously take any old 3 yr old, not just your academically-gifted,high-flying Proust and Stephen Hawking-reading toddler.

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

This comes as no surprise that they are failing miserably. Especially if one considers the behaviour of the pupils released on to the high road at 3.30 everyday is appalling. Look forward to seeing the NEW Ark Elvin (currently under construction) being converted to the first Grammar School in Brent. Having intelligent pupils will no doubt affect their behaviour outside the school. Go Tories, Go Theresa May, I do sincerely hope you are successful and Pavey and Butt should go whistle for their ill timed and badly thought out support.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that, Anon. Good to hear from someone with such a clear understanding of the issues.