Education reform is a massively important issue all over the world, not just in the United States. Academy trusts in the UK, for example, are currently under fire from charity groups arguing that they cannot demonstrate a substantive track record of success in improving local institutions and therefore should not be allowed to take on more schools.
According to UK education secretary Nicky Morgan, “If an academy trust doesn’t have a strong record of school improvement, then we wouldn’t let it take on any more [academies].”
She also speculates “If a school is good or outstanding, we want to support other schools,” noting that just because a school is good in one region, “there may be other schools in the area that could benefit from having the support of a good or outstanding school.”
Of course, this announcement appears to be in contradiction to the current policy and is now creating a bit of tension in the government, which is already facing the harsh reality that many academy sponsors could divorce themselves from the system.
Indeed, some trusts could be struggling from relatively low levels of improvement among schools. Others might face difficulties in solidly demonstrating their progress because a simple lack of data.
As such, the Education Secretary has now said that she is fully committed to the UK Government’s plan to strip 17,000 mainstream schools in England of local authority control and become private institutions by the year 2022. This means they would all be operated by trusts and not by councils.
According to Russell Hobby, who is the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Morgan’s new commitment actually introduces some concerns about capacity.
He cautions “It makes sense that trusts should have a good track record before taking on more schools but I fear that, given their mixed performance, this means that many trusts will be capped and we may have some capacity issues.
In addition, shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said, at a Thursday conference at the National Association of Secondary Moderns, this discussion has only created more confusion. She warns “If this is not explicit, then schools should take the message loud and clear that the government is back-peddling, and they should not be panicked into jumping before they are pushed.”