Last week Roke Primary School in Croydon was told by the Government that it would be sold to the Harris academy chain. The swift action to take a school out of local authority control is revealing of the Michael Gove agenda which is not, it would seem, about giving power back to local communities.
Parents say they are baffled that after only one inadequate Ofsted report it had been deemed a struggling school – eastlondonlines reported. They describe the Ofsted report as a “blip in performance” of a school which has always had “excellent” Ofsted results and they have started a campaign against the academy takeover.
Since the Ofsted inspection that took place last May the school rectified the mistakes that caused the lower Ofsted mark, and a further inspection by the local council has confirmed this.
The Department of Education said that it is necessary for the academy chain, which is run by Lord Harris, the Carpetright millionaire, to takeover the school. They argue that children deserve access to high quality education and they point to the fact that the same academy sponsors have turned around struggling schools in Croydon.
Academy companies have made school management more streamlined and more efficient and this has produced good results in some cases. But if there has not been any due process and consultation around the takeover of this particular school, the government is just unashamedly taking an opportunity to sell school property to Harris.
Sometimes when a school is genuinely struggling teachers and parents are happy to admit that help is needed. This was seen when the Westwood Girls School, also in Croydon applied to become an academy in Autumn last year, following a low GCSE pass rate.
But in the case of Roke primary, the community around the school the parents, the governors and the teachers want to keep the school how it is. And, this is where the buzzwords of Gove’s education policies should have come in. His policies are marketed as beneficial because they allow parents to have more choice and more of a say in how their children’s school is run.
But there are contradictions around the word ‘choice’ – in so many cases; you only have a choice as long as you choose the private sector.
The ‘local community having a say’ part has been elusive when education policy is played out in practice. If schoolteachers and parents want to make a good school out of what they have got, then they deserve to be listened to and not ignored.
Appealing to a concept of free choice does not work if it does not really exist, and this type of behaviour on the part of the DofE makes it even harder to have any trust in Gove and his new ideas.