Academy head not sure chancellor’s change is best option for all schools

DM1511164a.jpg Headteacher Dr Paul Jones of The Orchards Community Middle School, Worthing. Photo by Derek Martin

DM1511164a.jpg Headteacher Dr Paul Jones of The Orchards Community Middle School, Worthing. Photo by Derek Martin

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The headteacher of a school which converted to academy status last year said he is not sure it would be the best option for all schools.

Dr Paul Jones, of Orchards Junior School, in Worthing, spoke after the chancellor George Osborne MP announced all schools must become academies by 2020, or be on the way to converting by 2022.

The chancellor’s announcement was followed by the release of a white paper from education secretary Nicky Morgan MP, which outlined in detail the plans for the ‘academisation’ of state schools.

Described by the National Union of Teachers as ‘entirely the wrong proposals and priorities for education’, the one-size-fits-all academy approach to education has raised concerns among teachers and parents alike.

For others, like Orchards, the decision to become an academy had gone well.

Dr Jones described Orchards’ decision to form the Sparkle Multi-Academy Trust as successful and said the move had “been a positive one for our school”.

He said: “My feeling is that each school has its own individual needs and should make the decision about academy status based on those needs.

“For us it was the right thing to do and we have shown that was the case with our continued good performance this year.”

He urged his fellow headteachers to speak to the leaders of established academies to get “the full picture” before they decided which was the correct course for them.

Dr Jones added: “I’m not sure that every school becoming an academy is necessarily the best option but the system does need to be consistent rather than the mixed economy that currently exists.”

The budget report covered several aspects of education, including a fairer system of funding – called the National Funding Formula – and the provision of extra money to allow some schools to extend the length of the school day and offer more activities, such as sports.

The latter left many headteachers baffled as they already provided such out-of-hours activities.

Dr Jones said: “As we currently run over 50 before and after school clubs and provide catch up sessions for pupils I’m not sure where we could extend to!

“Obviously the creation of extra opportunities is a good thing but it is my understanding that in most schools this already exists.

“I’d allocate this funding to ensuring we have a well-rewarded and motivated teaching profession working in modern and well-equipped classrooms as it is the work in the classroom that is the critical element in pupil progress.”

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