Exmouth education group leader snubs academy proposal

PUBLISHED: 15:31 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 13:28 10 June 2010

THE CHAIRMAN of an Exmouth education group has criticised plans for schools to break away from local authority control and become academies. Tony Priest, head teacher at Lympstone Primary and chairman of the Exmouth Area Learning Community, said such a mo

THE CHAIRMAN of an Exmouth education group has criticised plans for schools to break away from local authority control and become academies.

Tony Priest, head teacher at Lympstone Primary and chairman of the Exmouth Area Learning Community, said such a move could have an adverse effect on the budget of schools.

Mr Priest was responding to details outlined in a letter, sent to all primary and secondary schools from Education Secretary Michael Gove, setting out the new coalition Government's vision for a fresh era of education in England.

"I am pleased to see in the letter Mr Gove has sent, he has expressed gratitude for the work teachers do," said Mr Priest.

"I think he genuinely wants to get some feedback from fellow education professionals (about the opportunity).

"My reservation with it is that it will cost a great deal of money."

Academies are state-funded schools which have a high degree of autonomy.

They have more freedom than other schools in the state sector over issues such as teachers' pay and how they are governed.

Academies, established with government cash, also have greater freedom to digress from the national curriculum.

Mr Priest added: "I am not in favour of a radical transformation of our education landscape.

"I feel, by having academies and free schools, it could have an adverse effect.

"The quality of schools has improved greatly in last decade or so - thus, if it is not broken, then why fix it?

"What I suspect will happen is that money will be taken away from the pot that goes to all schools.

"This will then be spent on either transforming existing schools into academies or building new ones."

Critics have argued that such changes could risk fragmenting state education with disadvantaged children losing out.

Schools rated as outstanding by inspectors could be fast-tracked into academy status for the autumn. Primaries will also be eligible to change their status.

The Exmouth Area Learning Community group is made up of 14 primaries.

It provides a strategic steer for collaborative education practice between schools in Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, East Budleigh and Woodbury.

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