Published:

25 comments

Cllr Paul Carter, the leader of Kent County Council, fresh from wasting a lot of money on an unsuccessful challenge to Government policy on Building Schools for the Future, is keeping up the attack. He has sent a missive to teachers and school governors in his county warning against schools seeking academy status.

He says:

The additional funds given to converting academies are drying up, so those schools still to convert will have a lower budget. This has created a two-tier funding system, whereby the outstanding schools that have already converted have taken with them additional funding compared to those schools remaining in local authority control. I feel very strongly that all different categories of schools should be funded equitably. I am assured by Mr Gove that the inequitable funding system will not continue indefinitely, and all types of schools will move to a standard model. This is why I am supporting further delegations to community schools to make sure we can undertake like-for-like comparisons between community and academy schools' funding regimes (as well as, more importantly, further delegation being the right path to follow). Provided Mr Gove delivers, there will then be little disparity between the funding for different categories of schools.

He has got this wrong. The relative financial advantage of switching to academy status is and will remain unchanged. There is a bit less money this year than last year so schools which become academies after April 1st will get less than before April 1st – but that is because the Education Budget is lower. The basic point remains the same. Schools that become academies will have that chunk of money that for other schools is sliced off and used to pay for bureaucrats in the Council's Education Department. That means that the school will have responsibility to provide services (for example Special Needs provision) but they will have choice over where they buy them from.


Anyway, Cllr Carter goes on:

A further concern is how the school landscape of Kent, which offers maximum parental and pupil choice through its wide range of school types, may be affected after future general elections. One needs to consider very carefully who may be in charge of national government in the future; without being too political, schools need to think long and hard about what impact a future change in government might have on their status and if they will be able to retain their unique ethos and character, when they are under the control of the Secretary of State.

What a craven attitude. For a start there is the false presentation of the alternative for a school being between Council control and the "control of the Secretary of  State" but Academy status means that schools are self governing. But Cllr Carter's scenario is also implausible. The worst thing that a Labour Government could do to academies would be to force them under Council control. But were the Labour Party to propose such a thing it would be electoral suicide. There will be too many academies by the time of the next election. It would be as if Labour in the 1980s decided to forcibly buy back Council homes sold under the right to buy. (Even their 1983 manifesto didn't quite go that far.) 

So why is Cllr Carter doing this? He is seeking to defend his empire. It is crumbling fast. The Department of Education lists schools that have applied to become academies.

The ones from Kent are:

 Amherst School
 Barton Court Grammar School
 Bennett Memorial Diocesan School
 Borough Green Primary School
 Brockhill Park Performing Arts College (in a chain with Highworth Grammar School for girls and Towers School and Sixth Form Centre)
 Castle Community College
 Chatham House Grammar School (in federation with Clarendon House Grammar School)
 Chiddingstone CofE (VC) Primary School
 Clarendon House Grammar School (in federation with Chatham House Grammar School)
 Dane Court Grammar School (in federation with King Ethelbert School)
 Dartford Grammar School
 Fulston Manor School
 Garlinge Primary School and Nursery
 Gravesend Grammar School
 Gravesend Grammar School for Girls
 Hartsdown Technology College
 Herne Bay High School
 Highsted Grammar School
 Highworth Grammar School for Girls (in a chain with Towers School and Sixth Form Centre )
 Hillview School for Girls
 Holmesdale Technology College (in federation with The Malling School)
 Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre (in a chain with Sandwich Technology School)
 Horizon Primary School (part of the Kemnal Trust)
 Invicta Grammar School (in federation with Valley Park Community School)
 Joydens Wood Infant School
 Joydens Wood Junior School
 King Ethelbert School (in federation with Dane Court Grammar School)
 Lady Boswell's Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School, Sevenoaks
 Lynsted and Norton Primary School (in federation with Selling
Church of England Primary School and Milstead and Frinsted Church of England Primary School)
Mascalls School
Meopham Community Primary School
Meopham School
Milestone School
Milstead and Frinsted Church of England Primary School (in federation with Selling Church of England Primary School and Lynsted and Norton Primary School)
Oakwood Park Grammar School
Pluckley Church of England Primary School
Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School
Regis Manor Community School (in federation with The Westlands
School and Woodgrove Primary School)
Riverhead Infants' School
Saint George's Church of England School
Sandwich Technology School (in a chain with Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre)
Selling Church of England Primary School (in federation with Milstead and Frinsted Church of England Primary School and Lynsted and Norton Primary School)
Sheldwych Primary School
Sir Roger Manwood's School
Smarden Primary School
St John's Church of England Primary School
St Stephen's Junior School
Swanley Technology College (part of the Kemnal Trust)
The Abbey School
The Canterbury High School (in federation with The Canterbury Primary School)
The Canterbury Primary School (in federation with The Canterbury High School)
The Folkestone School for Girls
The Hayesbrook School
The Malling School (in federation with Holmesdale Technology College)
The Maplesden Noakes School
The North School
The Westlands School (in federation with Woodgrove Primary School and Regis Manor Community School)
Tonbridge Grammar School
Towers School and Sixth Form Centre  (in a chain with Highworth Grammar School for Girls)
Valley Park Community School (in federation with Invicta Grammar School)
Weald of Kent Grammar School
Wilmington Grammar School for Boys (in a chain with Wilmington Grammar School for Girls)
Wilmington Grammar School for Girls (in a chain with Wilmington Grammar School for Boys)
Wilmington Primary School (Chain with Joydens Wood Infant School and Joydens Wood Junior School)
Woodgrove Primary School (in federation with The Westlands School and Regis Manor Community School)
Wrotham School

Even allowing for Kent being a big place that strikes me as a pretty long list. Has Cllr Carter paused to consider why, if his Education Department is providing such a fantastic service, so many schools are seeking to escape its clutches? These are schools that have the confidence to their own affairs. They have teachers who wish to get on with teaching and to be free from the shackles of bureaucracy. This is something which Cllr Carter should be celebrating and encouraging – not lining up with Fiona Millar, Polly Toynbee and the NUT in seeking to thwart.

25 comments for: Kent Council leader attacks academies

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.