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Why aren't more primary schools becoming academies?

A typical primary school has far fewer pupils than a typical secondary school. So therre are far more primary schools than secondary schools. Yet most of the schools that have converted to academy status so far are secondary schools.

The Lib Dem blogger James Hargrave argues the smaller size of primary schools makes academy status more daunting and that the Church of Engand can act as a block. In Suffolk 18 scondaries have converted but only two out of 200 primaries. "Remove the requirement to get approval from the diocese for church schools replacing it with nationally agreed arrangements to protect the church's interests," he suggests. Make becoming academy chains easy.

Mr Hargrave also urges the Government to sort out practical obstaces - fo instance "the issue of SIMS licences with Capita. Currently they are making converting academies covered by LA licences buy completely new licences costing thousands of pounds when they become academies."

What may transform the picture is when the governiing body of a primary school decides to switch to academy status with a sponsor. In my borough of Hammersmith and Fulham a primary school called Bentworth has decided to become an Ark Academy. Tremendous news for the prospects of the children. Naturally the National Union of Teachers have threatened to strike over it.

The Sunday Times reported (£) that the Clarendon Academies plan a chain of academies in 2,000 schools. Pretty ambitous as that would mean them taking charge in 10% of state schools - secondaries and primaries.They will also start free schools.

Their schools will have streaming, enforced school uniform and good behaviour contracts.

They will:

Provide an environment characterised by good manners and behaviour as well as pride in the school, its uniform and the pupil’s house. The ethos of the schools will be to encourage pupils to act kindly and responsibly and to develop their aspirations and self-confidence whilst showing respect for and awareness of the needs of others

They would also:

Have a comprehensive system of pastoral care based around a house system with tutors and mentoring by older pupils plus the encouragement of inter-house competitions

Include extra-curricular activities as part of the core curriculum such as: music, drama, sport, visiting speakers, expeditions, CCF and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme

Instil a sense of aspiration by providing careers and university guidance for all pupils in preparation for leaving secondary education whether at 16 or 18.

The former High Master of St Pauls is involved. All sounds pretty good to me.


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