Alarm bells sound over push for more academy-style schools

Turning failing schools into academies is not the way to improve standards, secondary teachers have warned.

Results of a Mori poll published today reveal that 53% of secondary school teachers disagree that academies are an appropriate way to raise standards in deprived areas, up from 37% of teachers in 2004.

The survey of 477 secondary teachers in England and Wales carried out on behalf of the Sutton Trust, a charity set up to promote social mobility through educational opportunities, also shows that six out of 10 teachers do not think that school choice is a reality for most parents – despite it being a cornerstone of the government’s education white paper published in October.

Publication of the findings coincided with that of a government prospectus for trust schools. The education white paper proposes allowing all schools to easily acquire trust status, giving them the opportunity to build on the experiences of academies and specialist schools by developing closer relationships with partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Launching the prospectus, education secretary Ruth Kelly said: “I am confident that trusts will help us move forward because they build on things that have made a difference to standards; external support and collaboration between willing partners have enabled schools to lift pupils’ achievement and help schools in some of our most deprived areas to improve more quickly than average.”

But commenting on the poll, House of Commons Education and Skills Committee chair Barry Sheerman said: “School teachers have to implement the proposals contained in the white paper, and the government should be concerned that the number of teachers who are against school choice and city academies – two key proposals – outnumber those in favour by two to one.”

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