Vox Pop: Should government give more autonomy to all schools?

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Local Government Association has called for a reduction in government control over all schools, not just academies.

YES - John Dunford, general secretary, Association of School and College Leaders

Extending academy freedoms could be the antidote to the excessive bureaucracy of previous years. Key to making it work will be a clear accountability framework and incentives to build on the culture of school-to-school support and partnership working. Academy status for all schools could mitigate the inherent risk of creating a two-tier system, with varying levels of funding and regulation. The danger is that local authority control of schools - which, in practice, has not existed for many years - will be replaced by more national control, with schools more accountable directly to the government.

NO - Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chairman, the Accord Coalition

I'm not in favour of giving more autonomy. It is important we have some form of national standards and central control to ensure that there are minimum standards. Ofsted may be a nuisance, but it is important that schools are measured against national standards. It is also important to have cohesion. People move around and there needs to be continuity across all schools. More autonomy also opens up the possibility, where religious groups are involved in running schools, of discrimination on religious grounds.

YES - Dale Bassett, senior researcher, Reform

Academies get more freedom and the Local Government Association is right to say that all schools should get that freedom. I think that is very much the Department for Education's thinking behind the Academies Bill. Secretary of State Michael Gove wants academies to be the norm, the default option for schools, so that all schools gain the benefits from that status.

NO - Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary, National Union of Teachers

The greatest dangers of liberating schools would be if it included control of admissions criteria or teachers' pay. The result would be huge division locally, putting more responsibility on school governors. It is the wrong way to go. We are in favour of autonomy when it comes to the curriculum. However, teachers are receiving mixed messages from government. We need better definition of what will form the "entitlement" curriculum and where the freedoms to set one's own may lie. The creativity of teachers must play a central part, but any freedom offered would be curtailed if pressure from league tables continued.

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