‘Academy plans are not privatisation’

EDITOR - In response to the obviously ill informed and politically biased letter regarding Academy Status written by a Mr Peel of Skegness, I am writing today my well informed if somewhat politically biased letter to put the record straight.

Firstly, the Skegness Grammar School (SGS) is not applying to the Ross Foundation for Academy status.

Skegness Grammar School is a very good school and as such can and has already applied for Academy status independently. SGS is in fact considering having the Ross Foundation as a sponsor.

Academies continue to be funded by central government but can choose to have a sponsor which provides support to an Academy along with expertise to support their future progression.

By taking on a sponsor and joining an existing network there are greater efficiencies to be achieved through families of schools.

Mr Peel states that he has done a “little research” indeed he has, too little, as his facts on David Ross are also incorrect. He is not “the Carphone Warehouse tycoon”, he was the co-founder and formerly a partner in the Carphone Warehouse.

He is indeed a very successful business man who believes in making a difference and improving opportunities for young people in schools. True, he is a Tory donor, so what! Some of us see that as a good thing.

Mr Peel states that “for a 10 per cent investment in the academy’s costs a sponsor is able to influence the process of establishing the schools curriculum and ethos”. Again this is not the case.

The David Ross Educational Trust (DRET) does not “top slice” any academy’s budget. With this sponsor, there is in actual fact no financial penalty to academies.

Neither does the Trust involve itself in any way in changing the curriculum or ethos unless the school is in need of improvement!

DRET works with a range of partners to broaden the opportunities that schools can provide for their pupils.

By working with the sponsor schools can continue to raise standards for all their pupils and also enhance opportunities, raise achievements and broaden the curriculum.

So, where does Mr Peel get his evidence for the incredulous statement that “Rather than widening the curriculum (involvement of a sponsor) often narrows it instead”? This is simply not the case.

Then Mr Peel treats us to Neil Kinnock’s views on academies, views which are also wrong and not even interesting.

Schools which become academies with DRET as a sponsor will still have a local Governing Body, comprising of staff, parent and local representatives, are still responsible for making day-to-day decisions.

In conclusion, let’s just look at the plain fact that Academies are publicly funded independent schools, resourced directly by the government and free from local authority control, and I must state here that is a good thing.

Unlike some other Academy Sponsors the DRET does not impose itself on schools but works with them to help them improve.

Therefore there is no need for Mr Peel to label Academy status as “privatisation” or worry himself or others about associations with David Ross Educational Trust as an academy sponsor.

It perhaps would have been better if Mr Peel had done his homework before putting pen to paper last week.