Academies and Local control - the great confidence trick?

So Gove wants to encourage large numbers, quite likely to be thousands of maintained schools to switch to become academies. This is touted as amongst other things giving more control to parents and the local community.

Unless something is hiding away in the new Academies Bill this looks like an amazing confidence trick. Existing academies give substantially less control to parents and the local community.

What's missing is any discussion about governance. At this point most people will probably fall asleep or go and read something more interesting but stay with me. Power to run any school is mainly with its Governing Body who hire and fire staff (inclduing the Head), control the budget etc etc. This is even more the case in an academy where the Governing Body employ staff and own the buidlings.

In a regular maintained school there are various different types of governors that essentially represent the "stakeholder" groups within the school. All maintained schools have a high proportion of parent governors, slightly less staff governors and then local community and local authority governors. So a maintained school could easily have 4 parent governors out of a total of 10.

In an academy things are different. Here the "sponsor" gets to appoint the majority of governors and hence have control of the school. Some academies have a single parent governor (amongst more than 20 others) as well as very little if any community representation.

I hope I have missed something and that existing schools converting to academies end up with a different model. If not people will long for the days you could at least bump into your school's governors in Tescos or even become a governor yourself.

Being a school governor of your own child's school in a place you live yourself and are know is about as accountable as it gets!

Links to source material

DCSF Academies Governance Guide
Academy Principals Manual
governors 1579711144518732509

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