The main argument put forward in favour of academisation is that schools will be freed from local authority interference or “tyranny” as Toby Young calls it. Since the White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, was published I’ve been racking my brain to think of examples where in my career my work has been interfered with. At times I’ve been frustrated by a local authority when underfunded systems have not worked well but I cannot recall, in the various roles I’ve held in schools, direct interference on what I was trying to do. I’m starting to wonder if I’ve lived some parallel life to other teachers.
My experiences include:
Frequent phone calls to the local authority governor support officer who was always available to talk on the phone.
Local authority press officer support after a critical incident
Training (of variable quality) offered on a term lay basis and co-ordinated by a small team
Submitting admissions criteria for scrutiny
Meeting various LA governors over the years
Arranging admission of children with statements
Coordinating a managed move of a child about to be excluded in another school
Meeting an LA appointed SIP to talk data and priorities
Corporate procurement meetings
Moderation of EYFS and teacher assessment
Submitting assessment data
None of these were interference. Perhaps I am suffering from suppressed memory where the tyranny is being blocked by my subconscious. I am not arguing that LAs did a fantastic job but I see no evidence that the provision and structures replacing them is any higher in quality.
I also have the experience of being in Birmingham when Tim Brighouse arrived and galvanised schools, teachers and governors in a way that without a local authority would not have been possible.