Gove seen as making bad schools even worse

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AN education chief has warned that the Government’s drive to force through academies is damaging work to turn around struggling schools and putting off future head teachers.

Bradford Council’s executive member for schools Councillor Ralph Berry has criticised Michael Gove for the way he accused those opposing academies as being “happy with failure”.

The Education Secretary claimed last month that some people who resisted the creation of academies were “enemies of promise”. The Government is encouraging schools across the country to opt out of council control to become autonomous and is forcing around 200 primaries to convert because they are not meeting Government standards.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Coun Berry said: “Myself and fellow elected members representing wards with schools where achievement levels are far too low have been working to get this agenda addressed for some time. So the idea that there is a collusion of silence is frankly offensive.

“Opposing the method is different from denying the problem... In any service improvement task knowing the context is vital, but let’s not muddle that issue with making excuses for failure. I know many schools that massively out performed their context of poverty, and have turned around their school, in partnership with a wide range of services and local leaders, elected members being a significant part of that. So the accusation that opposing the current strategy means you are in favour of failure is frankly silly and does not help at all.”

The Labour councillor warned that the way the Department for Education was pursuing its academies policy was doing “real damage” to the prospects of turning around the schools affected.

Coun Berry added. “I fear what we now have is a toxic mix of fear and uncertainty with children and parents caught up in the middle. The argument needs to be made for a better approach. The option of locally designed plans built upon co-operation and support on a non dogmatic basis is being damaged, the insistence of a ‘one tool’ policy is I believe, limiting what can be achieved and slowing things down.”

We need less dogma: Page 13.