The Secretary of State for Education is thought to be considering changing her plans to reform schools. Not wanting to put herself in the firing line of students, teachers, parents and headmasters, Nicky Morgan seems to have tentatively reached what she perceives as a compromise.
She hasn’t completely proscribed the idea of moving all schools over to the framework of MAT (Multi-Academy Trusts) by 2022, but she does appear to be considering allowing some movement on the policy.
The alleged amendments on the bill will mean that only the ‘best performing’ Local Authorities will be able to change the school framework into the MAT style. Of course, there is not yet a criteria for ‘best performing’, and there is great speculation as to whether such a test would be democratically just.
There are also concerns echoed in the NUT (National Union of Teachers). Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the NUT had this to say about the alleged changes to the academisation plans, “If correct, this would be an absurd proposition. It would cost millions of pounds to create these new structures for no good purpose.”
The headmaster of Millthorpe Secondary School, Trevor Burton, believes that a collection of schools under one MAT will allow for ‘greater freedom to build the curriculum’, emphasising the benefits that could arise from more specialised schooling.
This leads to the implementation of a ‘top-down’ educational system, meaning that MATs could be tailored towards the most gifted children based on their own individual standards and leave the less gifted children unaccounted for.
This, many parents argue, would mean that children with special needs and disabilities are not especially looked after, as is evident in more MATs than council run schools today. One extreme example of this is happening in Aston Villa Academy School where, as you would expect, there is a rigorous selection criteria based on whether children can make the club money later in life as a football player. If this system was to be applied in all schools, we could see the commodification of national education, similar to what is happening at Aston Villa now.