Academy upset as 19-year-old Radcliffe begins campaign
A politically-minded teenager has voiced his opposition to turning schools into academies, fearing ‘public accountability’ is being lost in the way they are run.
Josh Harcup, 19, from Radcliffe, has spoken out against the government’s schools white paper, which wants all schools to join a ‘strong trust’ by 2030.
But Josh, who is Radcliffe Labor branch secretary, is fiercely at odds with the way the academies are run.
He said: ‘Schools are major parts of our communities, they are deeply rooted, so it is really worrying that a private trust could take away our public accountability and control from local authorities.
“It’s not fair to bet on a student’s education and with the lack of evidence that academization benefits students, we can’t say for sure it’s the right way to go.”
“Given the recently released academy drop rates, I feel like that says a lot.”
Josh pointed to a recent report by sister newspaper, the Bury Times, which outlined the top five schools in the borough with the highest dropout rates and showed that four of them were academies.
More than half of all pupils now attend academies in England rather than locally run schools.
Some of the differences between the two include that the academies are not governed by a local authority and that, unlike other schools, they do not have to use the national curriculum, as long as their own curriculum is “broad and balanced”. .
Josh said he wanted to educate people about what the academies are and the difference in legislation, adding that he felt the lack of a national curriculum would not enrich student learning.
He added: “The Education White Paper basically says all our schools should become academies and I disagree with that.
“There is plenty of evidence that shows schools work better and provide better education when they are under local authority.
“I will be launching a campaign in every part of Bury, from Ramsbottom to Sedgley Park.
“I’m looking to build coalitions and work with whoever wants to get involved in this, I think it’s going to get broad support and I think we’re going to be able to really have an impact.
“My goal for the campaign is to fight to stop the academization of any school that might face it.”
Another difference between schools and academies is that the latter are funded directly by the central government.
This means they would receive money which was previously withheld by the local authority for additional services in all schools.
Josh said: “What we need is not to sell our schools and donate public land and take away public accountability, we need government funding to be able to support these schools, we don’t ‘we don’t need more privatization.”
In response, a Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “Our evidence is clear that strong multi-academy trusts have a good track record of improving underperforming schools, with these academies improving by average faster than similar local authorities. maintained schools.
“We want all schools to be part of a strong academic trust so that they can benefit from the support of the trust in all areas, cultures of excellence in behavior and attendance, teacher training, program, financial planning and inclusion for children with additional needs.”
The department also said more than 434,000 children are now enrolled in “good” and “outstanding” academies, which has improved since joining the Multi-Academy Trusts (MAT).
He added that in a 2019 DfE survey of schools that had recently become academies in MAT, 82% of primary schools and 76% of secondary schools reported improvements in staff training, and 89% of primary schools and 91% of secondary schools reported a significant improvement in the sharing of skills and expertise.