Skip to main content

On becoming an Academy, some messy musings.


At a consultation meeting this week concerning our conversion to academy status something that the visiting Headteacher, who was speaking, said struck a chord.  What he said was along the lines of:

“My job as a Headteacher for the past 11 years has been to subvert schemes and national initiatives, and the money that comes with it, for good and good is better learning”

It resonated with me as for the past five years, I’ve subverted funding from projects to enable wider changes to take place.  It’s amazing how much impact a small grant aimed at helping a select bunch of students can do for a whole department.  For example:

These projects all started with a narrow aim, but ended up having a school-wide impact.

My point?  School leaders at all levels need to get real and get funding.

Of course, this creates a conflict of interests between our own personal, political values and those of our public personas that are focused on making teaching and learning better.

I’m not going to give away my own political thoughts about the Academy programme, although this post gives you a clue, but if:

  • choosing to become an Academy brings in much needed investment (I draw the distinction between being able to choose an Academy sponsor and being forced to convert), and
  • that investment in infrastructure, services and resources can improve learning for our students,

then why wouldn’t governing bodies choose to convert?

My main objection would be that that becoming an Academy can put the running of schools in the hands of those without teaching or educational experience.  However, I don;t see any difference here between that and an LA councillor or for that matter a Secretary of State leading councils and the country. 

In my, admittedly limited, experience of education, the demise of the LA is no big deal from the point of view of supporting teaching and learning.  I have worked with one exceptional LA adviser in Jeff Stanfield, but most have been irritating.  The best support has always come from the subject associations and other teachers.  In the ‘old’ days this used to be SLN Geography, now it’s twitter and reading other teacher’s blogs.  Networks such as Microsoft’s Partners in Learning; Google’s Certified Teacher Status and Apple’s Distinguished Educator programme all provide excellent support, as long as you remember to keep the focus on teaching and learning and be open with the fact that they are all trying to a) tie you in to something that makes them money and b) expose young people to their brand so that they can make more money. Come on, they are commercial, for-profit organisations.

But are they evil?  Or can we, using our professional judgement, take the best bits to use in the classrooms?

Isn’t advocating Google products the same as arguing for the Academy programme? 

My main point?  Nothing new.  I’m no politician, but I know how to create excellent teaching and learning.  I’ll do that for the students and staff in my care regardless of the situation nationally. My personal and professional views are separate, and I’ll exercise my right to vote and protest using legal means, however in the meantime I’m going to carry on teaching.


Popular posts from this blog

#GAConf22: A paradigm shift for anti-racist, decolonised teaching and inclusion

 " You can't start a fire,  You can't start a fire without a spark" Bruce Springsteen.  Well, it's been a fair while since I felt the motivation or the need to blog. Whilst not a story for now, over the past five years I've danced along the knife edge and, often, the call of the abyss has been both tempting and compelling. Certainly, my failing in both my personal and professional life have been numerous. But. This is not about me, but the people that have (re)ignited the spark to the fire in my soul. I realise that this is from the perspective of a privileged, white, middle class male view. I even have a beard. I am scared of getting it wrong on this topic. Teach me if I am wrong, it is from the position of a learner. I was looking forward to the GA Conference this year, the first face to face since 2019. I have to say that Alan , as president, and the Geographical Association's team did a fantastic job at being inclusive. The hybrid format allowed peopl

What makes a learning experience profound? Personal reflections and possible implications for classroom practice.

I have recently begun a Leadership Pathways journey.  As part of the first core day, we were asked to reflect on a profound learning experience. This got me thinking about how many profound learning experiences I have both been involved in, and how many I have been able to give to others.  Our group came up with a huge long list, but these are my five. Emotional Connected Demanding Reflective Collaborative As always, these are personal thoughts and quite mixed up.  I put them here so that I can look back on them (plus they’d get lost inside my world-cup-free brain) 1. Emotional I can’t think of a time where deep learning hasn’t engaged my emotions.  From being awe inspired to that tingle feeling when a student gets a light bulb moment.  From this-is-the-happiest-day-ever, to I-think-I’m-about-to die.  How often do we engage the emotions of those we teach?  Here, I would argue that having a safe learning environment is not always conducive to profound

Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic. Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless. As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold: 1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and 2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making. The role of