Logo

Highgate head attacks Michael Gove’s ‘forced academy’ policy

PUBLISHED: 13:23 30 January 2012

Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Education Secretary Michael Gove.

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A Highgate headteacher has attacked government plans to force struggling primary schools to become academies as “extremely unfair”.

Factbox: Primary school academies

* Academies are state funded schools which are outside of local authority control, giving them greater autonomy over their finances and curriculum.

* Under Micheal Gove’s new policy, primary schools where fewer than 60 per cent of pupils achieve the national average of a Level 4 in English and maths in their year six SATs exams could be forced to convert to academy status.

* The policy change comes as the government’s schools inspectorate Ofsted scraps the “satisfactory” rating for schools.

* Instead, schools of this standard will be graded “requires improvement” and no school will be allowed to stay in this category for more than three years – creating another potential for the government to intervene.

* Former minister for Higher Education and Tottenham MP David Lammy this week presented a petition signed by nearly 1,500 people to Parliament calling on Mr Gove to stop forcing primaries to adopt academy status.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced last month that schools which fail to meet target grades for English and maths, including several primaries in Haringey, face being taken out of local authority control.

But William Dean, headteacher at Highgate Primary School in North Hill, Highgate, said the controversial shake-up penalises primaries with a socially mixed intake.

He said: “I am yet to be persuaded by the argument that academies will automatically lead to higher standards.

“I am personally very disappointed that pupil wellbeing and happiness is no longer of importance within the framework.

“Clearly happy children who enjoy their learning are much more likely to achieve well across the curriculum and in life.”

He added: “The fact that context is no longer a consideration when judging a school’s standards is of course a concern.

“I would argue strongly that an inner city school in challenging circumstances, where children achieve in line with national expectation, may well be better performing than one in the Home Counties with ‘outstanding’ results.”

Mr Gove has said that too many schools fail their students by not equipping them with the skills and grades they need to go into secondary schools.

He has also reportedly labelled teachers opposed to academies as “ideologues happy with failure”.

But Haringey teachers have hit back pointing to rules that see the borough attract outer London funding, despite the fact that Haringey faces the same high levels of social deprivation and poverty as better funded inner London boroughs.

Mr Dean said: “The one thing that would really help to raise standards further would be to have equal funding.

“When our budget was cut last year, it was things like one-to-one tuition that suffered.

“If Haringey schools received fair funding, standards would inevitably rise very quickly.”

Under the government’s new policy, schools are at risk of being converted into academies when less than 60 per cent of pupils achieve below the national average of Level 4 in English and maths in their year six SAT exams.

None of Camden’s primary schools have been singled out under the policy, but Camden National Union of Teachers (NUT) branch secretary Andrew Baisley said it was causing concern among teachers.

He said: “I am very worried about Gove’s policy. Academies centralise power at Westminster and that is one of my main concerns.

“If you have a problem you don’t go to the town hall you have to go to Westminster, which is very remote.”

But the Department for Education defended the policy.

A spokeswoman said: “We can’t just stand by and do nothing when schools are sub-standard year after year.

“Academies are proven to work. They have turned around dozens of struggling inner city secondary schools across London and are improving their results at twice the national average rate.

“We will offer sponsored academy status to schools we find to be consistently underperforming and whose results are below national standards.

“This is about rooting out under performance and driving up standards, so that students reach their academic potential.”

Latest Hampstead Education News

Highgate Newtown’s historic Konstam Nursery has unveiled a commerorative mosoaic celebrating its links to the First World War.

It was a double celebration at Highgate School on Saturday as crowds were treated to two fireworks displays.

Haringey parents will continue to fight for “fairer funding” for schools following the chancellor’s autumn budget.

Camden’s youngsters were in the spotlight at the Shaw Theatre for an evening celebrating the borough’s talent.

Three years after a controversial merger saw Torriano Primary School formed, teachers and governors are celebrating a top-of-the-class Ofsted rating that Camden Council’s education chief said “vindicated” the decision to amalgamate the schools.

A Hampstead school has scrapped a pilot project that saw commercial helicopters landing on its playing fields after neighbours complained it was causing “quite a riot”.

Neighbours are in a spin over UCS Hampstead’s unusual decision to allow a commercial helicopter firm to use its playing fields as a landing pad.

The former headteacher of St Aloysius College has been cleared of wrongdoing nine months after he was arrested as part of a £70,000 fraud investigation at the school.

Primrose Hill schoolchildren are desperate for help uncovering the secrets of their local war memorial.

A Muswell Hill mum has shared her anger at parents temporarily moving into the area to jump the queue for school places, as Haringey Council says it is investigating four cases of school application fraud.

The Heath and Hampstead Society has opposed plans to move a free school into the old Hampstead Police Station – even though the applicants have halved the number of pupils they hope to attract.

A budding journalist and a mentoring champion are two of the students being recognised for their high-flying achievements by the Jack Petchey Foundation.

A pair of Greig City Academy students are among a talented crop of Haringey high-achievers vying for an annual award from the Jack Petchey Foundation.

Seven months to the day after a single winter night saw two young men stabbed to death, Camden’s youth safety task force – led by Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer and Cllr Abdul Hai – last night recommended a series of measures to arrest the alarming upwards trend in youth violence in the borough.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck joined parents and children to protest the sudden closure of Queen’s Park Nursery.

Staff, parents and children at Chaston Nursery in Chalk Farm celebrated as 10 children graduate and move on to primary school.

There were broad smiles and hearty congratulations all round as the Channing pupils received their GCSE results.

Hornsey School for Girls students have excelled once again, despite reforms to GCSE exams this year.

The “resilience and determination” of Parliament Hill School GCSE students has been praised.

North Bridge House Senior Hampstead students have bagged the ‘best GCSE results in the school’s history’, with an impressive 55per cent of all grades at Grade 7 or above.

There were happy faces at Highgate Wood School as students collected their GCSE results.

Students across Camden achieved a strong set of results in the new-style GCSEs, according to the council.

There were some happy faces at Greig City Academy today as 17 students, approximately 10per cent of the year group, achieved a new top Grade 9 GCSE in one or more of their subjects.

Rising to the challenge of tougher new GCSEs, South Hampstead pupils and staff were celebrating another year of “exceptional results” across the board this morning – and the school’s second best ever percentage of top grades (A*/9/8s).

Heartlands High School’s head of school said she is “delighted” with their set of GCSE results.

The phenomenal achievements of Fortismere School students have been championed on GCSE results day.

A 16-year-old Highgate School student who was diagnosed with Leukaemia in April has bagged straight A*s in his GCSE results this morning.

One Henrietta Barnett student nearly 6000 miles to get her GCSE results this morning, and was rewarded with 10 grade 9s.

A set of twins were among the girls celebrating their GCSE results at Henrietta Barnett, as they got the top grades in the majority of their exams.

Didn’t get the exam results you were lookinng in your GCSE results today, or A-levels last week, but want to be a sports journalist? Then don’t despair, Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif says it’s not the end of the world, just look at the example of his intern Toby Miles.

The headteacher of University College School Hampstead has championed his students’ achievements in the creative arts on a record-breaking GCSE results day.

The headteacher of Highgate School has lauded his students’ ability to cope with ‘tougher, fatter GCSEs’ on a record-breaking results day.

No coursework, two years of study, a clutch of Bs and a handful of threes - it’s a tricky time to be a GCSE student.

Paddington Academy students are celebrating achieving the best A-level results in the school’s 11-year history.

Hornsey Sixth Form College A-level results were ‘significantly above national average’, according to the headteacher of the Crouch End school.

The principal of Westminster Kingsway College has champions the achievements of students in their A-level results.

UCL Academy students who received their A-level results yesterday are ‘equipped to be global citizens’, according to the school’s co-principal.

A-level results day at Greig City Academy revealed an array of talent, with Oxbridge bound students in a variety of disciplines.

The headteacher of Channing School has championed the ability of her students to combat tougher exams on A-level results day.

A-level results day started early at Highgate School - some students opened their envelopes at 6AM - as yet another year group smashed records to achieve the best results in the school’s history.

A record-breaking year at Fortismere School has seen students confirm places at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge on A-level results day.

A “fabulous range” of A-level results at LaSWAP Sixth Form Centre has seen students meet offers from universities as diverse as Falmouth and SOAS.

UCS Hampstead bursary students have been singled out for praise on the day the school received its second best A-level results ever.

The headteacher of Henrietta Barnett School has championed her ‘inspirational’ sixth formers on A-level results day.

Westminster Academy has achieved a host of top scores in its International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

Most Read