Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reinforcing the schools revolution

It's stunning what's happening in the UK, where schools by the droves are converting to charters (called "Academies"):

There is extraordinary news today, suggesting that the Academies revolution is continuing apace. What was a trickle under the Labour years is turning into a flood. This time last year just 1 in 16 state secondaries had 'Academy' status: that is, operationally independent within the state sector. Now, it is 1 in 6. By Christmas, it should be 1 in 3. And by the next election, the majority of state secondary schools in Britain — about 1,600 — should have turned into Academies. Had Gove suggested such an expansion before the election, he would have been laughed at. The last time the Conservatives sought to give state schools independence was under Kenneth Baker, when just 50 availed themselves of such freedoms in three years. Now, freedom appears to be contagious. As I wrote last year, the teaching unions first sought to intimidate the first few converting Academies, bombarding head teachers with Freedom of Information requests and threats of judicial reviews. But now the unions have too many targets. Gove has approved 357 schools, with 473 applications being processed. And remember that Blair's target was 200.


This matters because, in Britain, the fastest way to improve a school is to liberate it from the control of incompetent local authorities. This was demonstrated by Labour's City Academy project. Whenever a state school was taken over by an independent provider — such as the Harris Federation or Absolute Return for Kids — its results would skyrocket. Harris Academies' results, which I blogged about recently, are a case in point: look at the table at the end of this blog. It destroys the old lie that it takes a generation to turn around a school. If teachers are given the power to teach, to set the curriculum, to pay staff what they like and (yes) to sack whom they like, then the results are extraordinary and immediate. Britain's schools have the talent, resources and the determination. They just need the freedom.


Thursday, 7th April 2011

Reinforcing the schools revolution

Fraser Nelson 9:35am

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