12 March 2014

A new survey of academies from SSAT and Reform, “Plan A+ 2014: The Unfinished Revolution”, has revealed that over one-third of the 654 academies surveyed employ unqualified teachers.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), thinks parents should be “extremely alarmed” about this since it is every child’s right in a state school to be taught by a fully qualified teacher.

Although academy schools are “part of a growing movement towards diversity and choice in education” and the first opened in 2002, the report’s authors call academies an “unfinished revolution” since the “potential of academies to reform the education system is yet to be realised”.

Many academies have yet to “capitalise on their freedoms to bring about positive change”: two-thirds have not exercised their freedoms over the curriculum, staff terms and conditions or the school day — despite more than half of respondents indicating that increased autonomy was their main reason for converting.

This position, says the NUT, vindicates their own stance on retaining the coherence of school days and terms across schools.

However, the report suggests that it is the rest of the school system that is restricting the ability of the 3700 academies to make changes: as an example it points to the fact that, even though academies may deviate from the National Curriculum, pupils often sit the same exams as pupils in other schools.

These findings, say the authors, mean that the Government must “spread the innovative approach of leading academies to the rest of the system … and grant those freedoms to all schools”.