Academy status has its disadvantages too

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RE: Your report last week that Lincolnshire County Council is now encouraging all schools in the county to seek academy status and govern themselves.

As academies are funded directly, they can decide how to spend their money.

This may result in better value but it could also result in a worsening service for pupils.

Take careers guidance, for example. Schools will have a statutory duty to provide independent careers advice to pupils but this could be as little as access to a website rather than the more expensive option of one-to-one interviews with a professional careers officer.

And academies that join an academy chain will find they are governed by a remote organisation, not accountable to any external body, with money being siphoned away from education to pay for its head office.

Schools have rushed to convert for three reasons. The first is money, but the Department for Education has warned that the current level of funding for academies is unsustainable.

The second is fear that if schools don’t convert then they will be left with an LA who no longer has sufficient money from central government to provide the services the schools need.

The third is government bullying which requires schools that don’t meet its “floor standards” to be forced to become academies.

Lincolnshire County Council recognised that this posed a real risk to its secondary modern schools particularly if grammar academies took more children.

And the council estimated that 10 per cent of Lincolnshire’s primary schools would not meet these new standards. Schools forced to become academies because of government policy added to those schools which rushed to convert mean that Lincolnshire County Council feels it has no choice but to advise all Lincolnshire schools to become academies thereby relinquishing all responsibility for education in Lincolnshire.

Bribes, fear and bullying – these should have no place in the running of a democratic country.

Janet Downs

Bridge Street, Deeping St James

Local government in Britain has never been perfect. But we used to be proud of local services provided by councils accountable to the whole of each community.

Now we’re told that academy schools will “be free from local authority control” – as if the council were some alien monster.

Schools will no longer be part of a system designed and administered by a democratically accountable council to meet the needs of the whole community.

Academies will intensify competition between schools, increasing the inequality that already blights our sick society. And incidentally leading to more traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

Academies – and so-called “free” schools – will open the way for privateers to provide education for profit, a motive that should have no place in schools.

Despite the fate of his experiments in New York, Rupert Murdoch is planning to get his greedy fingers on British schools.

Anybody taking a favourable view of academy schools would be well advised to consider all the implications.

DAVID GROVE

King’s Mill Lane, Stamford