22 Oct 2014
Yesterday, our education secretary, Nicky Morgan, spoke with the commons education committee and inadvertently seems to have dropped a few clangers. Recently we looked at the education experience of previous post holders and found only one who had worked in - or even been to - a comprehensive school. But we would expect that having been in post a few months they would have learned about suitable levels of briefing before speaking in public, at least.
Perhaps talking to a chair of any academy trust might have helped - the following are the observations of one such.
Here's yesterday's hat-trick of clangers:
Academies are required to teach British values as part of their funding agreements - in fact, the vast majority don't have this in their funding agreements as it was only inserted last year. Any schools converting before then won't have that clause - you can check whether your academy has this included by finding your school here and following the link from the school details page.
" I think would be wrong for local authorities to feel that because they do absolutely [have a role to play] - not only in terms of admissions - but also in terms of working with academies." Wrong again: academies control their own admissions. The LA may administer the process of application, but academies are free to ignore the LA's wishes. In the last academic year, our LA had to, effectively, bribe academies to take more students as they have so few non-academies left in which to place students.
Ofsted can inspect academy chains, she told the Education Select Committee yesterday - even though Michael Wilshaw - who should know - says they don't. Morgan went on to clarify "I am satisfied they [Ofsted] can inspect constituent parts, they can particularly inspect school governance and support that chains are offering to schools within the chain. They can also do batch inspections." This is not the same thing. It's the equivalent of inspecting the teaching staff but not the school leadership or governors. LAs on the other hand are inspected, even though many of them look after fewer schools now than some academy chains.
None of which inspires confidence in the new education secretary, these comments are at best duplicitous and are certainly misleading, whether intended or not.
It's too soon to judge Morgan's calibre, and it may be that she's simply a night-watchmen for next year's election. She's said previously that her aim to see through Gove's policies, without yet coming up with anything herself, apparently. This is a shame, because she is reputed to be an excellent politician and has been tipped for the leadership. Maybe she'll get a better grip on the education department after the next election, if she's still there.
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