Education Nov 18 2010

A national funding formula would make academy status irrelevent for many schools

Originally posted on the Local Schools Network

Michael Gove must be getting desperate. His latest letter to chairs of governors practically begs schools, whether good bad or indifferent, to consider academy status. Presumably this is because so few of the initial 1900 potential converts finally came good.

But why would we now?  If every school is effectively going to become an academy via a national funding formula, we will all be ‘free’ of the local authority in due course.  And the huge sums of ‘extra’ money that are apparently showing up on the DFE ‘ready reckoner’ for potential converts ( which appear to contain a hefty bribe over and above the amount that would be recouped from the LA) will be toast in a year or two when everyone is pegged to a flat rate topped up by modest or variable pupil premium. Schools in some areas that benefit from the current formulae may even be worse off, whether they are academies or not.

Then there is the supposed allure of collaboration. Apparently ministers are dismayed that their invitation to high performing, socially advantaged schools to drift off into autonomy has been interpreted as a desire to re-create a two tier system, when in fact all they wanted to encourage was more collaboration.

But why do schools need to become academies to collaborate with more successful schools or partner schools in difficulties? They can do that now, in a variety of soft or hard federations, while remaining within the maintained system and without going through possible divisive battles in their governing bodies and local communities  that academy conversion may bring.

The gloss has gone off the academy proposal, there is always law of diminishing returns with these sorts of gimmicky,  high profile policy announcements. Soon the letters will be going straight into the bin, if they are not already.

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