Saturday, 21 April 2007

Letter to Oxford Mail over Peers Academy bid

To the Editor

The premise of academy schools (New Academy Offers Much, Letters Monday 8th April) is that in return for a negligible financial contribution sponsors are give more or less absolute control of the school's curriculum, ethos and staffing. They can control admissions policy and are allowed to select up to 10% of the intake should they choose. One of the scandals of the national academies debate has been the diminishing amount of funding required from sponsors before they are handed control of a school, which are normally built almost entirely from the public finance.
Nationally there has been a lack of transparency over contributions and I hope that the sums involved in the Peers bid will be made public so that people can have an informed debate on this matter.

The issue is not whether the people of East Oxford deserve a new £22m school, but why this school has to be established on such a convoluted basis. The academies framework is one derived entirely from New Labour market theology rather than from any local campaign or educational lobby.

In 2006 a hapless head teacher and New Labour wonk Des Smith was caught by a newspaper promising that honours could be lined up for supporters of the academy programme. A year on he is less sanguine, quoted as saying of academies 'Money has been wasted in the most appalling way. Many of them are the same schools with the same problems, just with new buildings' (Education Guardian, April 3rd 2007). Hardly a ringing endorsement.

David Radford
Oxford Respect


Above: Respect supporters out last weekend campaigning on the issue of Academy status for Peers School

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