Route to academy status made easier

Providers of technology to schools will be weighing up the possible consequences of the secretary of state for schools’, Michael Gove, decision to invite all primary and secondary schools to apply to become academies, especially since it comes in the wake of the closure of Becta.

Schools that are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted will be fast tracked through the process.

Subject to Parliamentary approval of the Academies Bill, introduced in the House of Lords today, the first tranche of these academies will open in September 2010 and schools that become academies will enjoy:

• freedom from local authority control
• the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff
• freedom from following the National Curriculum
• greater control of their budget
• greater opportunities for formal collaboration with other public and private organisations
• freedom to change the length of terms and school days
• freedom to spend the money the local authority currently spends on their behalf.

These freedoms will be in addition to system-wide reductions in bureaucracy due to be announced shortly. This will shift power from central and local government back to heads and schools.

Michael Gove said: “The government is genuinely committed to giving schools greater freedoms. We trust teachers and headteachers to run their schools. We think headteachers know how to run their schools better than bureaucrats or politicians.”

Patricia Sowter, headteacher of Cuckoo Hall Primary School, indicated that her school would apply for academy freedoms. “To achieve success in our school we have always been committed to effective and non bureaucratic ways of working,” she said. “I have always felt that successful schools should be given the option to adopt the same level of autonomy that comes with academy freedoms. These freedoms would allow Cuckoo Hall to continually build on its success and shape its own future by choosing our own curriculum to best meet the needs of our children.”