'Championing the rights of children'

What if your academy brand loses its shine?

Garry Tue 15 Apr 2014 10:53

By signing up to become an academy, a school becomes part of a 'brand'. Its reputation and pupils' prospects will be tainted if other academies in the same brand fail.

Being guided by "brands" can be a good or a bad thing. If buying presents for teenaged family members, it's very helpful. You buy them a Superdry hoody and you're officially the world's coolest aunt: job done.

But brands have a downside. Back in 1993, Jack in the Box was one of America's most popular fast-food chains. But when an E coli outbreak in one restaurant killed four children and permanently injured 187 others, even the safest branches found people reluctant to eat there.

Today, England's schools are increasingly operated by branded chains of academy trusts. And though the government talks often of their benefits: how they share expertise, develop exciting curricula and give better career opportunities to teachers, the potential for reputational damage when trusts don't operate well is not to be underestimated.

Cracks are already appearing in several academy trusts. Encouraged by financial incentives thrown at them by a government desperate to get its academy programme off the ground, many grew far too quickly: of the 88 academy trusts operating three or more schools, 25 have been asked not to take over any more amid concerns about their capacity. And while some chains are doing well, we should not be surprised if some fail spectacularly.

Read more... (The Guardian - 15 April)