Southport's MP has been taking up the cudgels on behalf of schools who are being 'bullied' to become Academies. The full debate is here scroll down to 2.30pm at Col 31WH after the debate on where to bury the remains of Richard III (me I favour Liecester Cathedral)
I was trying to determine the basis for the psychic gifts that enabled the Secretary of State to anticipate how many schools will become academies by a certain date. I concluded that he probably does not have psychic gifts; he has a gift for irony, as the matter will probably not be left to choice anyway. Throughout the land, brokers are appearing in schools when the opportunity arises to hasten things on and ensure that the targets are met. They show up when a school suffers even a temporary decline in standards. A recent article in The Guardian by George Monbiot—not a man I ordinarily agree or see eye to eye with—compared them to mediaeval tax collectors. I happen to think that mediaeval tax collectors performed an important social function; I do not necessarily feel the same way about brokers.
Brokers appear to come to governing bodies with threats and an academy contract in hand. The threats are, “Sign the contract, or you, the governors, and possibly the head teacher, will be replaced”, or “Choose a sponsor, or if you don’t we’ll choose one for you, which we may do anyway.”
There is a hurry to get on with things. Schools are basically told, “Get on with academisation now, or we will do it for you anyway.” They are also told—this surprises me—“Don’t tell the parents or the staff until it actually happens. Consult with them afterwards.” To sweeten the pill, cash is sometimes promised, in the form of a changeover fund to accommodate change. Relief from inspection or the school’s current status is also promised: whatever pressure Ofsted or the LEA apply will disappear when academy status is established. More worryingly, I have evidence that sponsors have been recommended, particularly school chains, with whom individual brokers have prior connections.