Education reformers like to say they are doing it for the kids. That the reforms will improve the education system. Mountains of evidence shows this is poppycock and that education reforms overwhelmingly lead to profits being more important than the children’s education.
England As An Example
In England, the government has ruled that by 2020 Academies (charter schools by another name) will take over ALL state schools. Forcibly.
Whether parents and students want it or not. Whether the staff want it or not. Whether the school board wants it or not. Whether the school is doing badly or brilliantly.
It’s been mandated: ALL England’s public schools will be handed over to Academies.
Do Academies/Charter Schools Improve Education Systems?
If Academies raised standards, perhaps it would be understandable that the government wishes to hand all schools over. Acceptable, even. But they don’t.
Pro-reformers will point out this school or that as being improved under the charter school model. But the truth is, they are the exception. Under this model, there is a raft of bad practice: Suspensions rise. Inclusion goes down. Cherry-picking of students takes place. And when similar cohorts are compared between public and charter schools, it is clear that charter schools do not improve results.
Even the UK Department of Education’s own analysis shows that, overall, England’s state schools do better when run by the Local Education Authority than by an Academy Trust.
Which surely begs the question of why this is being done.
Follow The Money
If you want to know the reason for reforms, follow the money.
Ask yourself, who benefits from these changes?
It isn’t the students: England’s national and international test results have fallen since Academies were put in place.
It isn’t teachers: Classroom teachers’ work conditions and pay are often far worse in Academies.
So just who is raking in the money? You might want to take a look at Academy Trusts’ CEOs. And while you’re at it, have a look at the misappropriations and frauds that have already happened in Academies. (A reminder – that’s your tax money they are taking. Money that is meant to be used to educate students.)
And where are savings being made, to pay these CEOs? Excellent question.
Are Academy CEOs such brilliant businessfolk that they are able to use money so much more wisely than LEAs and school principals ever did? Is running a thriving carpet empire or a successful mobile phone business what it takes to make an education system great?
No, not so much.
UK Schools Minister Nick Gibb recently said, in a speech championing Academies, that “[n]o child should have to spend one day more than necessary in an underperforming school and as an urgent matter of social justice we are determined to spread educational excellence to every corner of the country.”
But does the rhetoric match the reality?
So what is really going on?
Cost Cutting and Untrained Staff
Let’s take this Academy school as an example.
Hatfield Academy primary school was, in 2015, rated inadequate at many levels. The OFSTED report specifically said that teaching was inadequate and stated that the school must “[u]rgently improve the quality of teaching”.
And yet this failing Academy is happily advertising for someone with no training at all to teach its students:
No knowledge of pedagogies. No research of good practice. No understanding of child development or psychology.
To put this further into context, this is a school where a school survey of parents showed that:
- 27% felt their child/ren were not making good progress at the school.
- 45% felt the school is not well led or well managed.
- 42% felt the school does not deal well with concerns raised, and
- 40% of parents said they would NOT recommend this school to another parent.
This is global education reform.