Beware Ministerial endorsements

Perry BeechesThe report by the Governments Education Funding Agency (EFA) that what they were apparently told about the Perry Beeches Academy Trust by a whistleblower in September is correct has come at a bad time for all of the students about to study exams at the 5 Schools in the Trust. Because the news emerged at the same time as the white paper “Educational Excellence Everywhere” which is proposing amongst other things, that all Schools become academies, this has amplified the criticism of the trust and potentially brings into question if Academies are as thoroughly good news as the Government would like us to believe. According to one national newspaper the five Schools will be ‘rebrokered’ and handed over to another organisation, a transition which will potentially create uncertainty for all students and their families along with those families that have just been allocated spaces at one of the schools. This is a matter that brings into question the actions of the Prime Minister who endorsed the trust and its Chief Executive, Liam Nolan and invited him to speak at the 2012 Conservative Party Conference as well as opening one of the Schools. The Perry Beeches Trust has also been endorsed by both Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan in their role as Education Secretary. Of course these high ranking and influential politicians could not have been expected to have known that there were financial irregularities taking place at the Trust, it has clearly taken the EFA six months to uncover this. However by the same token how could these Politicians have known that Perry Beeches was a good place to send children when there was so much unknown? Yet it is endorsements like theirs which create a premium on places at Schools, and risks distorting the way in which parents make their selections. The idea of choice in educational provision is a very overrated concept. True choice means that there will need to be spare capacity in all schools so that they can expand to match demand. In truth this is not possible due to the time it takes to build new classrooms and employ additional teachers. However preference is shaped by all sorts of factors but interventions by Government Ministers should not enter into the process at any time. It is doubly concerning when the endorsements are seen for what they really are, based on ignorance and supposition rather than knowledge and insight.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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