Dear Mr Gove: Letter from a curious parent
Michael Rosen has some questions for the education secretary.
I know you're proud of your policy of creating academies, but something happened on 23 April that pressed my panic button. You told the Commons education select committee that eight academy schools have been served with "pre-warning notices" because they are severely underperforming. I immediately thought, how come?
Aren't academies the solve-all, the system that will rid us of "underperforming" schools? For the record, let's say it out loud: we now know that academies can and do fail. Perhaps, though, I should suspend my judgment, because the great advantage of the academy system is that the moment something goes wrong, the parents' complaints will be heard and the secretary of state will be on to it?
Let's look closer. First, we're not allowed to know what or where these academies are. With local authority schools, we have accountability and transparency with online Ofsted reports, sometimes followed by local newspaper headlines and TV fly-on-the-wall documentaries, but with academies, we have the schools that dare not speak their name. And we have the academy accounts that dare not be made public.
Even so, should I have confidence that the matter is being handled competently? It doesn't seem so. The education select committee chairman, Graham Stuart, tried to work out whose job it was to deal with what parents think about these underperforming academies.
Was it the Young People's Learning Agency – now closed – where parents with children in local authority schools used to go with their complaints, or perhaps the Education Funding Agency?
Read more ... (The Guardian - 30 April)