The case against the Prendergast Academy plan

Last month, the governors of the Prendergast federation of schools voted to apply for Academy status, prompting protests by unions, parents and students.

The schools are generally well-run, which is both an argument to trust the judgement of those running them and a reason not to fix what ain't broke. Likewise, the educational advantages (which are all that really matters) of the Academy model are relatively unproven, but if the worst that can be said about it is that the upside may not be all it's cracked up to be, that's not much of an argument against Academy status.

So here is an article by Prendergast parent Meredith Eddy from campaign group SAIL (Stop Academies in Lewisham), who summarises the case against the plan:

"For parents, what is happening at their child’s school is very stressful. It is something over which you have little control but seems like a huge chunk of your precious one’s life and future. The reality is, whether State or Independent, we all rely on the teachers to know their business and do the very best they can.  This should be vital to those in the community without children as well, since the children of today are the citizens of the future, looking after all of us in our old age.

"Academies seem to offer us a way to have a bit more control over what happens within a school. However, there is little evidence to support this claim. Any new academy can choose how it governs itself, and they are under no obligation to include more parents or teachers in that equation. Further, the current governors are under no obligation to consult parents, teachers or the wider community (whose taxes still pay for the schools).

"What about academic performance?  There is unequivocally no evidence that there is any impact on performance by changing the status of schools to academies.  This is true also of charter schools and free schools in other countries – the USA and Sweden – for example.  Further, Prendergast Hilly Fields is one of the best performing, most improved schools in the country – this without the ‘benefit’ of being an academy.

"Surely, though, it’s just good business sense to manage a school locally and not rely on the council, who cannot be counted upon to manage things efficiently.  However, even when it comes to simple economics, the numbers are vague at best.  Currently, schools report to the local authority – Academies report to the even bigger bureaucracy of central government. Further, non-academies use central council facilities, like accountancy, legal and human resources.  An academy could not provide these services on its own as effectively.

"And finally, who educates our children, but the teachers that make up the school.  We all might have ideas as to how they could do it better, but at the end of the day, they are professionals, just like your GP. If any of us are faced with an uncertain future at our place of work, we are likely if we’re any good, to look elsewhere.  So will our good teachers.

"The anti-academy group in Lewisham is not just a bunch of radical activists looking to poke one in the eye of the Government.  We are simply a cross section of parents and citizens who want the best for our children, for our community and for our future – over which we are being given absolutely no say."

72 comments:

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Word! "The anti-academy group in Lewisham is *not just a bunch of radical activists* looking to poke one in the eye of the Government. We are simply a cross section of parents and citizens who want the best for our children, for our community and for our future – over which we are being given absolutely no say."

localparent said...

Lots of words but still nothing exactly problematic with the proposal. #storminateacup

parent said...

The Leathersellers are a charity, not for profit group. They've done a great job so far with the schools. I'm anti the idea of profitable academies, but with less and less being available from Lewisham I think this might be a good move. Staff should remain the same and given all schools are already Foundation schools rather than full Lewisham community schools I don't think it would actually make that much difference. I think people just hear the word 'academy' and don't like it, but as academies go I think this could be one of the good guys.

SE13 said...

Agreed! Storm in a teacup!

sammyp said...

Nick, you are being disingenuous in the casualness of your introduction here: I don't think it is over dramatic to say that this spells the end of the state education system as we know it. There are many, many things problematic with this proposal, both for the schools themselves and for education in Lewisham as a whole. What is much less clear is what is good about the proposal - save for the fact it will enable the federation to take over other schools to become a new academy chain, something of no benefit to the current students and of questionable benefit to any schools joining (after all, the success of the federation for Ladywell is uncertain - it still 'Requires Improvement'). The plan to expand is evident in the working party's report, which otherwise offers a far from convincing case for academisation, forced to recognise that if anything the evidence points to the failure of academies to raise achievement - those educational advantages that Nick refers to are entirely unrelated to academy status.

Worried teacher said...

I was not well informed about this issue and I've been reading up. Essentially, academies operate under different rules to state schools: the governing body doesn't need to include parent representatives, they can set their own admissions criteria, don't need to follow the national curriculum, can employ unqualified teachers, and they are free to set teachers' pay and conditions which can lead to poor retention of staff. Of course it is possible for academies to be well run but there is a greater susceptibility to abuse of power, a risk in a culture of league tables and competition. More fundamentally, academisation severs the link between schools and the local education authority, further centralising power, and alongside the free school movement is leading to a radical reform of our education system that is entirely unproven and being conducted at breakneck speed.


Do not be reassured by the no doubt good intentions of the Leathersellers: this is being driven by an executive head who in his previous post was accused of 'stonewalling' parents who successfully fought an unfair admissions policy that was found by an independent judge to be knowingly discriminating against children from nearby council estates. The report is lengthy - sections 52 to 57 on page 15 are the most relevant and revealing. The bullet points in section 55 in particular expose the shocking degree of intent the school had in using a discriminatory policy. The account portrays a leadership that clearly didn't have the interests of the whole of the local community at heart, something that I think parents should be concerned by.

The report is here: https://docs.google.com/…/0B9GB1PQuo9iAODYyYzZiMWEtYz…/edit…

Worried teacher said...

I was not well informed about this issue and I've been reading up. Essentially, academies operate under different rules to state schools: the governing body doesn't need to include parent representatives, they can set their own admissions criteria, don't need to follow the national curriculum, can employ unqualified teachers, and they are free to set teachers' pay and conditions which can lead to poor retention of staff. Of course it is possible for academies to be well run but there is a greater susceptibility to abuse of power, a risk in a culture of league tables and competition. More fundamentally, academisation severs the link between schools and the local education authority, further centralising power, and alongside the free school movement is leading to a radical reform of our education system that is entirely unproven and being conducted at breakneck speed.

Do not be reassured by the no doubt good intentions of the Leathersellers: this is being driven by an executive head who in his previous post was accused of 'stonewalling' parents who successfully fought an unfair admissions policy that was found by an independent judge to be knowingly discriminating against children from nearby council estates.

Brockley Nick said...

"Nick, you are being disingenuous in the casualness of your introduction here:"


How?


"I don't think it is over dramatic to say that this spells the end of the state education system as we know it."


Perhaps - but you have to explain why the status quo must be sacred.


"There are many, many things problematic with this proposal, both for the schools themselves and for education in Lewisham as a whole."


OK - such as?


"What is much less clear is what is good about the proposal"


Agree. But that was what I said in my introduction, which you didn't like. But "case not proven" is not an argument against. What is the argument against? Meredith has made one.


"something of no benefit to the current students and of questionable benefit to any schools joining"


You could question any benefits - but this is still not a case against.


"those educational advantages that Nick refers to are entirely unrelated to academy status."


I didn't make any claim about the educational advantages. I am neutral on this particular issue. I'm just pointing out that "questioning" the benefits is a weak argument against something.

Brockley Nick said...

There are no for-profit Academies.

ABH said...

There needs to be a parental ballot across all three (very different) schools in the Federation. How, when even the Chair of the Governors disses 'Harris-type chain of academies' can the Leathersellers guarantee that they will instate anything better?

SE4mum said...

Can does mean will though does it? Why should the Leathersellers change their values after all this time? We need to ensure and conversion has clear policy about the future plans.

parent said...

I didn't know that. It just goes to show how much scaremongering is associated with academies!

James said...

This is a good summary of some of the concerns that have been raised (written by a teacher no less)... http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/michael-gove-ideological-vandalism.html

Anon said...

Is this the same Meredith Eddy who signed a petition on 7 Oct 2010 against the Tidemill Academy ?

Brockley Nick said...

Agree.

Brockley Nick said...

There's nothing wrong with having a consistent view on a subject. If you believe, as Meredith does, that each new Academy in the borough takes us further down some sort of slippery slope, then it makes sense to oppose all such moves.

Not just scaremongering said...

There have been numerous cases of nepotism and conflicts of interest associated with academies, however. There are also fears that the privatization of schools will lead to top-up fees and suchlike being charged.

Little Fish Bloke said...

Tidemill Academy the one with the parasite ego and self promoting Mr Mark Elms, where is he now? he resigned/retired days after his pushed conversion to Academy with a lumpsum payout approved by his "appointed' un elected Governing body - only then to immediately install his crony friends/business patners from Reach2 Academy, Mark Elms is currently touting himself out as an executive headteacher salesperson to his flock of Academies (so not really retired is he?) creating more cronies and profiteering from the state education budget - Dean Ashton, Steve Lancashire - not bad for a weasel ratty man that failed his ofsted in Lambeth when he first set out to become a supposed Educationalist Leader - here he is feathering his own nest, he also uses direct nepotism by installing his past/present girlfriends as Headteacher and Deputy after poaching them from Tidemill - have a look and see the faces of opportunism for yourselves ! Academies are about making money pure and simple , they have no transparency, they have little accountability it is Modern day Cronyism at its worse, made for opprtunist charlatans like MR Mark Anthony Elms et al look up his Business company director positions,http://companycheck.co.uk/director/916230768/MR-MARK-ANTHONY-ELMS

Worried teacher said...

They can offer no legally binding assurances; it's all a matter of trust which is something that many of us do not have for the current executive head. The proposed structure would make him the only direct connection with the staff and parent bodies on the board of directors 'representing' our views to the Leathersellers whose knowledge of education may be somewhat limited (I think the current Chair of Governors is a banker) and who may therefore be inclined to follow his lead. Nothing can be ensured which is partly why we are so concerned.

Woman of Brockley said...

I used to work at Prendergast many years ago. It was certainly not the case then that the Leathersellers barely knew the school. They take their responsibilities to the schools they are involved with very seriously indeed. They have pumped a huge sum of money into the Hilly Fields site - without their support the school couldn't have moved there in the first place in 1995 and would still be stuck on a much smaller site in Catford. Given a choice between having Steve Bullock and the Leathersellers deciding what happens in my child's school I'd go for the Leathersellers every time.

Woman of Brockley said...

It's some years since I was involved with schools but the law always used to state that the Chair of Governors couldn't be a member of staff in the school, so that there was some degree of independence from the headteacher. Given the time commitment required, that usually means the Chair is not from an educational background, as nobody who works in another school is likely to have enough time to take on being Chair. That doesn't mean they know nothing about education.

Worried teacher said...

My concern is more that the executive headteacher would be the sole representative of the school - I know that governors usually come from other sectors.

Woman of Brockley said...

Your link doesn't work. This one should. http://tinyurl.com/kqqnw6h, assuming you're talking about the Charter School and the decision of the Schools Adjudicator in February 2012.

Woman of Brockley said...

And he speaks so warmly of you! :)

Worried teacher said...

I have worked in the school for over a decade and it has changed hugely in that time - the days of lunch with the governors and Year 7 visits to Leathersellers Hall are long gone. It's not that teachers at the school aren't appreciative of the Leathersellers' historic involvement, or indeed of their role as governors within the existing structure. Much of the current anxiety is caused by a lack of trust of the Executive Head who is driving this. And while people might not rate Steve Bullock, at least he is democratically elected.

Little Fish Bloke said...

You must be one of his favoured Cronies ;)

Woman of Brockley said...

Indeed not! I haven't a good word to say for the man, I'm afraid.

Woman of Brockley said...

Gosh, that's a shame! I'm even more out of date than I thought. I loved all that.

Anon said...

Is this the same Meredith Eddy who designed the Deptford X logo and has been working on promoting The Kings Group (British School King’s College) in Spain?

Anon said...

Some people on here live in fantasy land Lewisham LEA has produced some crap schools with poor results over the years, have memories of Malory School been removed from peoples brains?

Then there was the little matter of Crossways that was built by the democratically elected Steve Bullock for students in the North of the borough, which under performed so badly it went South of the borough but even that didn't save and it at within 10 years of appearing at Spurles Road went south completely and is no more.

Didn't a Lewisham LEA school "Grinling Gibbons" have its exam results cancelled because of 'irregularities' the silence from certain loudmouths in Lewisham was deafening.

Callum said...

I am a public-school educated former employee of the conservative party and free-market liberal who for the last four years has worked for and with businesses large and small.

For outcome focused services, privatisation gives a financial imperative to delivering on those outcomes. I fully support that.

I fully oppose academies, however. Academies are a way to bully schools into achieving results.

It is a self-evident truth that a fraction of what is important about going to school is about the learning. Good schools give us confidence, emotional and cultural intelligence, abilities to cope with failure, manors and experiences of adulthood with stabilisers – they educate us. Education is not a measurable outcome, which means making school a results driven services detriments the opportunities we give our children.

If we only focusing only the contribute the products our school system’s make to our economy, academies remain a massive miscalculation. The industrial economy is long gone and the internet economy is rapid fading towards a digital economy. I have worked with people who are dreadful spellers, mathematicians and linguists, but are extraordinary leaders of multinational operations. Why? Because success in life is about far more than repeating knowledge. Well educated people are only going to become more valuable as technology becomes more able to learn. Sungata Mitra talks about this in far more detail the changing requirements on workers, http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud?language=en.

Reducing politics to statistics and dogmatism is sad state of affairs – academies have come to symbolise this. I hope very much that Lewisham will stand against this.

NXGResident said...

I am baffled by the personal comments about the original poster. If you disagree with her view, say so - she speaks for hundreds if not thousands of people so making a personal attack is entirely pointless, quite apart from being mean-spirited.

researcher said...

Is this the same Meredith Eddy who wears an eyepatch and has a metal hook for a hand? Truly remarkable woman, great with parrots.

Mark said...

That's just not true. The private sponsor profit through the backdoor by selling to the school their 'educational model' and other devices.

Ladywell Teacher said...

I’d just like to add my opinion to the mix, having worked at both an academy and a state school. I really wish they were just a 'storm in a teacup', for all of our sakes.

No system is perfect and there have always been state run schools that fall far short of the mark, even, as we know, in our own borough.

However, it’s the combination of greater autonomy with the marketisation of education fostered by the academy system that creates the perfect storm I encountered when placed in an academy for my teacher training.

There’s something about untethering a school from a Local Authority, and all of the pay and conditions documents that have been put in place after years of negotiation, in the context of increased competition between schools that leads to an ethos of ‘results above all’ in academies. In the academy I worked at this meant that staff were bullied and forced to work all hours, cheating went unchecked, and shocking pupil behaviour went un-tackled because management were too focused on ‘converting’ Ds into Cs. Pupils became grades rather than people and any sense of pupil welfare was sidelined unless it could be shown to have a demonstrable and significant effect on attainment at GCSE. I would never in a million years have wanted to send my own children to such a school. Hence why I left to work in a state school.


The irony, as teachers who have worked in academies will know, is that they are an incredibly ineffective way of trying to raise results as poor working conditions inevitably leads to high staff turnover (40-50% every year at my academy), meaning that the teachers (often young and inexperienced – as I was) left behind are whipped harder and harder to get results that become ever more
difficult to achieve before leaving themselves as soon as they can.


There is no evidence to show that academies raise attainment and, because of my experience, I truly believe that time will show them to be a failed experiment as they’ll have reduced teaching to a burn-out profession which can only be to the detriment of the education system because experienced teachers leave due to stress.

Furthermore, it seems absurd to me that the Governors of the Leathersellers' Federation of Schools want to change status of the federation without the full backing of their stakeholders. After all, if their arguments for academisation are so robust, why not open them up to a proper consultation including a ballot of parents, staff and students? I would want the people running my school to believe in the values of democracy and openness and can well understand the concern of staff at the schools in question that their Governors are demonstrating the opposite of these qualities in rushing through this very important decision without ensuring that they have the backing of all involved. As much as I might criticise the LEA and Steve Bullock, at least they are democratically accountable, whereas my great concern is that we are handing over the reins of education in Lewisham to groups of people who do not have to listen to any of us, at all. As much as we might trust the philanthropy of the Leathersellers, that's not a reason to sacrifice local control over education. Whilst academisation might not be privatisation in the sense that academies are able to make money from education, it is in that we are giving private companies and charities control of our state-funded schools, and I for one would be very concerned if that transfer of power happened on our doorstep.

LocalResident said...

Yes, yes, quite right Anon - thank goodness Malory was saved from the LEA and became Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy and went from being, as you say, a "crap" school to merely having, as Ofsted has it, "serious weaknesses". Academy to the rescue? And yes, Grinling Gibbons is in a mess but so is Aske's Academy with its recent £2 million fraud.

There are some pretty good schools in Lewisham producing solid results and well educated young people. There are good LEA schools and good academies; bad LEA schools and bad academies. What concerns me is the lack of democracy in evidence now in the way in which academies are being pushed with no convincing arguments for them. Nick Barron on here says ".. but if the worst that can be said about it is that the upside may not be all it's cracked up to be, that's not much of an argument against Academy status" I would say that it's certainly not an argument for it either. Once a school becomes an academy there is no turning back. It requires a huge leap of faith for that school's community to believe and trust that a small group of people can steer a school, or group of schools in the right direction. It may be that education needs some kind of a change in some areas but this is not the answer.

In the case of Prendergast, the proposed structure for governance is narrow and undemocratic. The Leathersellers have presumably done a pretty good job of selling leather goods to enable them to act as benefactors to the Prendergast schools for a great number of years. Selling leather goods would not necessarily mean that they know how to run a school, or chain of schools though, would it? Harris was pretty good at shifting carpets so had to be capable of sorting out education - no? No, as it has turned out.

There is no appetite for academy conversion at the Prendergast schools except from a power hungry executive head who has taken no steps to familiarise himself with the school community he is serving. The current legislation concerning academy conversion is a scandal; it is heavily weighted towards those seeking conversion and gives no voice to anyone who dares to feel differently.A board is not required to ballot parents, so the Prendergast board will not; it is not legally required to consult before an Academy Order is sought (even though The National Governors Assoc advises it) so it did not. Having been told that the consultation period would be six months, stake holders have now been informed, since getting the go-ahead from the govt, that it will be just six weeks from a date of their choosing. The speed at which this is moving is horrifying. The lack of respect for parents who have chosen not to send their children to academies is breathtaking.

If the academisation of the Prendergast schools goes ahead it will affect all the schools in the borough. Potential changes to admissions, curriculum, school day and holidays will force other schools to follow suit. Rather than trying to work in a supportive way, under one umbrella, schools will be in competition as businesses competing in the market. OK if you are churning out leather goods or carpets - but these are our local children we are talking about here.

Thanks to Brockley Central/Nick Barron for featuring Meredith Eddy's letter and allowing this issue to be discussed further than the school gates; it needs the oxygen of publicity.

Worried teacher said...

Thank you - yes, that's the one.

Broccoli said...

Here, Here!!
Or is it HEAR HEAR!!

Broccoli said...

Alarming stuff, indeed!!

Anon said...

Democratically accountable? Lewisham had terrible schools that went from bad to worse and the party in power increased its seats in the council.

Why should teachers feel bullied, when there is a shortage and market forces will take hold meaning they can move on and leave the badly governed schools.

What to stop a Teacher's union or collective of like minded teachers getting together and setting up a school run on the lines they wish buying into LEA services....instead of whinging?

Anon said...

What's personal about ensuring the person who wrote this article isn't the same person who promotes independent fee paying schools?

Guest said...

Anon, what is your agenda here? Why the hate and disrespect?Tell us instead all your reasons for supporting academisation and we can start to have a conversation.

sammyp said...

Let's just hope it's not your children in that badly governed school with a culture of bullying. Teachers can move on (although such an experience will have taken its toll) but that's not so easy for the pupils.

Brockley Nick said...

There have been numerous cases of nepotism and conflicts of interest associated with every kind of public and private institution. That is an argument for scrutiny and accountability, not an argument against Academies.


And those "fears" are - frankly - balls.

Brockley Nick said...

Oh come on, it's a paying gig, that's all. Ridiculous to insinuate some sort of hypocrisy.

Anon said...

...and the customers/pupils will go elsewhere or the iffy schools will be financially forced to change their ways.
Schools have always had targets be they the 11+, Keystage 1, 2 or 3 moving on to getting pupils to university or accepted on a training scheme.
If state schools operated by LEA's are so hunky dory why are staff regularly going on strike over 'pay & conditions' primarily pay, and it's been like that for decades.
To pretend generations of schoolchildren haven't suffered at poor LEA schools that haven't been turned around is a joke. And the suggestion only LEA schools can be governed properly and staff are not bullied is a nonsense as witnessed by past events and results in Lewisham, Lambeth & Southwark.
Teachers, their unions and associations have the freedom to set up schools and operate them in the form they desire. What are they scared of?

Anon said...

The agenda is to open the eyes and throw away the blinkers and buy a mirror for those who always blame others for their own failings and refuse to recognise the truth.


Why do people like you adopt the Margaret Thatcher position of 'you're either for us or against us' ? Very often situations/decisions/life is not like that.

Alarmed said...

I think your reference to 'customers/pupils' unfortunately says it all.

Alarmed said...

So your response to the problems of democracy is to have less democracy? Brilliant.


Also, these people work tirelessly to educate our children. It'd be great if we could not channel the spirit of Gove and describe them as 'whinging' when they are merely trying to alert us to the potential problems of a proposal that's seemingly being rushed through.


Parents are calling for a ballot. That to me seems very sensible and the least the governors can do.

Anon said...

All you are seem to pointing out is that the adults are behaving like children where two children are arguing over their education one saying theirs is better than the other and sniggering at the failures of their opponents education, my dad's bigger than your dad!

What has democracy go to do with it, do teachers start each lesson asking the pupils what they'd to do today? What was democratic about the 11+, or the introduction of comprehensive schools where in some areas parents were given no choice and their children were all sent to the same school.
People who tend to claim something is undemocratic very often just mean they don't like the decision, if the decision had been to their liking it suddenly would declared democratic.

Anon said...

Are parents calling for a ballot or just some parents?


Do the unions & teachers ballot the parents when they strike, would that not be the democratic thing to do?


Last year, another demo of democracy at work...


"A leaked memo from the NASUWT claimed some members have faced insults and intimidation from NUT members over their decision not to take action. But the
NUT denied any negative campaigning from its headquarters."


I just run a check strike after strike has been about pay & conditions and surprise, surprise they have more than often been resolved with a pay rise.

Anon said...

If it is the same person isn't it similar to an estate agent selling off council properties at inflated prices and then presenting themselves as righteous at damming other estate agents?

Brockley Nick said...

No, I don' think that is comparable. In the case of the Estate Agent, he is profiting directly from a situation he pretends to oppose.


In the case of a woman opposing Academy status while being paid to design a logo for a private school, the two issues are completely unrelated. One might easily support the right of private schools to exist while opposing the Academy system at state level.

ABH said...

Prendergast parents, prospective parents and supporters, please sign our petition demanding a full parental ballot on Academy status: https://www.change.org/p/leathersellers-federation-of-schools-governing-board-we-the-undersigned-demand-a-binding-parental-ballot-on-whether-the-prendergast-federation-schools-prendergast-school-prendergast-ladywell-school-prendergast-vale-school-should-convert-to-academy-st

Anon said...

"I have written all the Schools' brochures..."

Sounds more than just producing a logo for a school run on British lines, which one private, academy or LEA?

http://mereditheddy.com/work_Kings.html

Anon said...

And....it could be a crap school with the staff being bullied by the head, a staff who could be under pressure to work more hours for less money but as long as the branding is positive the rest can be ignored?

Robert said...

I have two daughters at Prendergast.


For all of the anger directed at the concept of Academies - which is generalised political rhetoric - I have yet to hear any real practical reasons as to why my daughters' school will be worse off. I have heard lots "what ifs", and the wonderful expression "if it ain't broke don't fix it". Then I hear that it is broke, and that it is the Governors and Senior Management's fault, but not Lewisham Council.


I am slightly on the fence on this one. But I have to say, I am beginning to resent the browbeating, and scaremongering that is tainting the argument. The kids are in a state about it too - and very few of them even really understand the issues. A conversation I had with my daughters at the weekend made that clear. And teaches are threatening to resign? If that is the case, that's a real shame, I'd expect better from them.



I was a school child in Lewisham, and both my children have been at Lewisham Schools. The constant message I have got from teaching professionals throughout this time is that the structure of Lewisham Education is a nightmare. Bureaucratic, generalistic and stubborn. Part of me appreciates the idea of removing a school from a political organisation such as Lewisham Council, and giving it over to the pedagogues. I am also intrigued by the idea of allowing teachers to be playful with the National Curriculum.


I just don't like centrism. And it occurs to me that Academy status might give the managers and teachers that run it so brilliantly, the freedom to push it forward.


I think I am swaying in this direction unless I hear a sensible argument that shows me otherwise.

Jon Johnson said...

I also have a daughter at Prendergast, I would urge you to read the Governor's working report http://www.leathersellers-federation.com/206/mat-pre-consultation-papers and the response by the campaign https://stopacademiesinlewisham.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/sail-response-to-the-wp.pdf. I think you wishes are valid, though I think the experience of academies does not bear this, out too often academy leaderships as a much ideologues as education departments and financially motivated to boot

Jane said...

The last petition gained about a thousand signatures and the one posted below calling for a parental ballot had fifty this morning when it had only set up for a few hours. That's quite a few parents.


You are suggesting that the unions are undemocratic in their actions (they don't ballot parents when they go on strike, no, but they do ballot their members) but then seem to use that to suggest that there shouldn't be a ballot of parents in this case - I'm afraid I don't follow your logic.


Any kind of bullying or intimidation is out of line, obviously, and it's a shame that some union groups indulge in that kind of behaviour. I have to say that it's completely the opposite of my experience of unions, which I have always found to be incredibly supportive and friendly groups of people. Even so, your point that intimidation might occur only seems to sure up the argument for a ballot as then parents would be free to vote for or against academisation as they see fit.

Neilgadhok said...

Hi are your kids at the Prendergast nursery on Elmira Road? We are coming up to school age and I'd like to speak to parents with children there

Brockley Nick said...

The credibility of your argument that this there is mass support for the protestors is rather undermined by the fact that you keep posting on this thread under different names.

Joeg said...

That statement is untrue in general and particularly in the case of the Leathersellers are a charity rather than a "private sponsor"

Anon said...

I cast my eye over the latest online petition and the first name that caught my eye was that of a well known activist, whose vocabulary consists of one word 'NO'.
A quick check of other petitioners shows they have no connection with Prendergast or even Lewisham and can find they are active in Guildford or are concerned about the make of mobile phone they have living in Southampton.
If what Nick is indicating is correct it's possible the same person may have signed the petition more than once, as indicated by the comments beside the petition?
Maybe it's the campaigners who are not being open & transparent and it is they are hiding their true motives behind hardworking ordinary people?

Anon said...

Further...didn't someone at Lewisham council recently help themselves to teachers bank accounts via fraudulent Standing Orders? All it proves is that there are individuals who have criminal intent be it the LEA or an Academy.

Iain said...

I'll unashamedly wade in late and with partial knowledge on this subject.

Whether or not something is private is pretty moot, now we live in some kind of post-giddensian fantasyland. If a public body or charity is encouraged to behave according to private principles (competition, keeping profit, takeovers), you get the same results as the private sector- that is, they exploit the bulk of the workforce to the largest degree possible (look at the high number of volunteers in drug/alcohol/mental health charities, who do complex work without support and suffer relapses because of it), disproportionately rewarding those higher-up the food chain who achieve this (high salaries for executives in academies and foundation trusts). And, worryingly for education, health etc, they invariably foster a culture where openess is sacrificed in order to meet their other demands- see the Francis Report or the sacking of Charlotte Monro at Barts FT. On top of this, the administrative costs nationally fly up, because lots more oversight is needed to make sure the freedoms granted don't lead to large-scale fraud.

So there's no use pretending something isn't private when people in executive positions receive fuck-off salaries and our encouraged to adhere to private principles.

Re: Prendergast etc, this Leathersellers charity may have felt they were compelled to academise or risk future takeover/failure/loss of control. They may have acadamised with serious misgivings about a bonkers system, in the name of self-preservation, so I find it hard to point the finger at them without full knowledge. But, based on what I've read on this blog, I'd oppose the school getting academised because it might encourage some sort of confidence in the school to stand up for what is right in a bonkers system, and protect the school from succumbing to what looks to be a national, failed experiment. It's not a great situation for them to be placed in, really- although that head sounds nasty.

Fabhat said...

Hi Neil, I have a daughter in reception at Prendergast Vale. If you have any questions I might be able to answer for you - let me know.

Anon Y Mus 2 said...

Ultimately, some academies work and many don't. Many LEA schools work and some don't function well enough to give pupils the best life chances . Some things are being twisted and misrepresented. Also a bit of hypocrisy which is both sad and irritating. Many concerns are valid but wasn't there a fraudulent head of St Marys who stole money and didn't have any qualifications to run a school? Bad governance and heads are not unique to academies.

Mark said...

I was responding to the general statement made by Nick that academies are all not for profits. It is not untrue. It is a clear fact as evidence by the NAO.

Brockley Nick said...

Please provide your evidence for this "clear fact"

Algernonian said...

The concern I'm picking up from all this is the lack of belief and trust in the Executive Head. That's a MAJOR problem. If there is a lack of willing to put such a major decision out to the wider vote, then there is something to worry about. Without complete transparency, there's clearly something to hide. My former school up north has become an academy, and there was an equal amount of concern from the local community. There was also a large amount of misinformation bandied around by the various teaching unions and political parties. Luckily, the Head is an exceptionally good teacher and leader. She uncovered a huge amount of errors and malpractice from the local council, which she has now been able to rectify. It's turned out to be a good move. But you need a good, motivational, competent and trusted leader for it to work. It doesn't sound like Prendergast has those qualities on its side....

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

London Tonight have covered the story on the forced academisation of Pendergast schools.
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1813516258874404

xuxa said...

I'm a Vale parent and have just received a rather odd letter from Prendergast saying the DfE are going to recind the academy order in respect of Prendergast Schhol but not Ladywell Fields or Vale, it goes to to say...

The Department of Education have also been in receipt of a letter before action in accordance with the preaction protocol for judicial review. They have carefully examined the challenge and have determined their issuing of the order was likely to be found not compliant with the regulations in respect of Academy
Orders. The applicable regulations are The School Governance Regulations 2012: School Governance (Federations) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI2012/1035).



Anyone got any idea, apart from the obvious message at the beginning, what is going on?

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