18 Oct '14

News The Observer view on academies and education | Observer editorial

Ofsted has become part of an unaccountable school systemThe revelation by the Observer that schools in a high-profile academy chain sponsored by a non-executive director of the Department for Education and publicly backed by ministers had advance warning of Ofsted inspections is the latest in a line of controversies that have beset the governments flagship education policy. Its drive to create more academies and free schools has eroded accountability and introduced powerful conflicts of interest into the nations school system: schools ministers running academy chains despite also being accountable for their performance; directors of academy trusts resigning over contracts awarded to their own companies; and private companies both running Ofsted inspections and selling school improvement services. Improving underperforming schools should be at the top of every education secretarys agenda.While most schools in England are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted, around one in four are not good enough. A significant minority of schools will always need intensive support to improve. Under the previous government, the academies programme was tightly focused on school improvement: bringing new leadership into failing schools that showed no signs of improving under local authority control. When Labour left office, there were around 200 academies. Continue reading...

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