It’s for your own good

An enforced academisation is being challenged in the City of Derby. Sinfin Community School has been told by Education Secretary, Michael Gove, that  it is not performing well enough and he has sent in his storm troopers, despite the fact that the local authority had an improvement plan.

Fire at Sinfin SchoolSinfin has a colourful history. It serves a ‘challenging’ area and has been in and out of ‘special measures’, suffered a major fire (right), been rebuilt as a new school and already fought off one plan to turn it into an academy. It was being supported by a nearby ‘outstanding’ school but nonetheless was put into ‘special measures’ again at its 2011 OFSTED inspection. The Headteacher immediately cried ‘foul’ but to no avail (see a future post on the subject of dodgy looking OFSTED judgements for academies compared to community schools). In 2012 its results were slightly above the government’s ‘floor targets’, the arbitrary target below which schools are considered to be failing (schools should get at least 40% of their students achieving five or more GCSEs at Grade C or above including English and Maths – no allowance is made for the prior performance of students – Sinfin achieved 42% in 2012). Incidentally, have you noticed how governments like to set everyone else targets but when they fail to meet their own they either extend the timescale or just change the target?

We also now know that academies and free schools are Michael Gove’s ‘big idea’ and, heaven help us all, his ‘legacy’. Arguments by his supporters are always about ‘raising standards’ and the rights of children to a good education. No one, of course, can argue with either of those, but Gove appears to believe that the only way to achieve this is by turning schools into academies. He will do this in the face of local opposition, ignoring any sense of local democracy and with dubious evidence,  at best, of the efficacy of academies.

The Derby City council has launched a legal challenge to Gove in the case of Sinfin.

Read the full account on the Derby Telegraph’s website :


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