Friday, 3 September 2010

PEN Summer Reading #5

Friday 3rd September

Over the last few days, as pupils and teachers head back into the classroom, the media has once again turned its attention to what is happening in our schools. Much of this weeks coverage was dedicated to the schools which are opening their doors for the first time as academies. This first round of academy transformations was either a qualified success or terrible failure, depending on your choice of newspaper. We can expect such partisan argument for the both sides of the debate until new schools start to generate useful data, which may take years.

The definitive numbers, taken from the DfE's own press release are:
  • 142 schools converting to become academies: 32 are opening this week and a further 110 schools have had Academy Orders signed which means they are on track to convert to academies over the coming months.
  • Of the 142, there are 7 primary schools which become the first ever primary academies to open. The Government has said that special schools will also be allowed to become academies from next year.
  • 64 new academies replace failing schools this September plus a further 10 opening by April 2011. This is record progress; it took five years for 15 city technology colleges to open, and four years for the first 27 academies to open."
Writing in The Telegraph, Michael Gove argues that his reforms will allow schools to "educate without the burden of bureaucracy".In The Independent Richard Garner mirrored the views of much of the media, questioning the judgement of rushing through the academies bill with the justification that schools were clamouring in their thousands to take advantage of the powers.
Some of the most measured analysis of the first wave of academy openings came from Chris Cook writing in the Financial Times.
Another take on the academies story from Conor Ryan, who argues that the Labour legacy of focusing the academy programme in failing schools has been a success for disadvantaged children.
Academies appear to have upped their game this year, across the board, posting better than expected improvements in GCSE results write Patrick Watson.
American education writer David Plunkett looks at the performance of the US charter schools which have inspired coalition education policy.
Report submitted by the Sutton Trust says that disadvantaged children should be given priority in order for schools to get incentive rewards of pupil premium.
The final PEN reading list item of the summer is a great resource from the NAHT, with a timetable of planned government policy changes and action in the coming year.

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