This week at the Labour Party Conference, the Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner had a few things to say about education in Britain and in particular the Academy system.
‘We’ll start by immediately ending the Tories’ academy and free schools programmes. They neither improve standards nor empower staff or parents.’
While I of course accept that there are without a doubt failing Academies and Trusts across the country, however, a sweeping generalisation like this can have no positive impact on the Academies who are succeeding for their pupils, that are making a real difference in the lives of pupils and their parents.
Ms Rayner goes onto discuss fat cat trust directors raking in a profit off the back of pupils without a care for their progress or wellbeing, using education as a means to become wealthy at the cost of the most vulnerable, leading to a need to bring Academies back under the control of Local Authorities.
Again, while I am sure there is evidence of this, I have to say this is not always the case and I can evidence this directly through our own practice.
At The Pivot Academy we have an ethos which places the child at the centre of everything we do. Do we need to bring in funding to do that? Of course we do, but it goes directly back to provide the best possible support for our pupils and their families including specialist teachers, psychological and therapeutic services (without months’ or years’ long waiting lists) and social work support, without the increasingly high thresholds which mean the most vulnerable aren’t able to access services.
We are able to evidence this through achieving a good with outstanding elements from OFSTED in our first year of opening; through 100% of our first cohort passing their English exams and leaving year 11 with specific qualifications tailored to meet their individual needs and destinations; and a 33% increase in our pupil’s attendance from their previous Local Authority run schools.
This evidence just covers the academic attainment of our young people. We are also able to evidence reductions in self harm and increase in self-esteem and personal wellbeing; prevention of placement breakdowns for Looked After pupils and the most vulnerable due to difficult home conditions, and psychological assessment of all our pupils as standard to identify specific needs.
Apparently this neither improves standards or empowers staff or parents. I would beg to differ and would love Ms Rayner to come and see us and see how things can be done differently in the independent and private sector. Whether pupils, families, staff or our professional partners, our door is always open for those who want to come and see how we make a difference in the lives of our young people and their families, putting children at the centre of everything we do.