Monday, February 26, 2007

NAO criticises Academies

"The National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the academies scheme for millions of pounds of cost-overruns, low exam results, poor A-level provision and a failure to collaborate with neighbouring schools." from the Norwich Evening News.

The National Audit Office, of course, is the Parliamentary body, independent from government, that sees of public policy is being administered in a way that delivers value for money.

"In a new report, the NAO said academies cost more than other schools to build and most of the projects ran over-budget by an average of £3m."

Another interesting facet is this: "The report also reveals that academies are being forced to restrict community groups from using their facilities in order to avoid VAT liability, despite the fact that academy buildings were always intended for community use."
A new report from the IPPR suggests that allowing schools to pick their pupils on the basis of their parents' faith leads to their being less representative of local communities, according to The Telegraph. Needless to say, Lord Adonis has said that this will have no effect on Government policy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

US sponsors pull out

US sponsors of the 'charter school' scheme in America have pulled out of negotiations on sponsoring academy schools in Great Britain, as reported in the Daily Telegraph here. The company has not been named, but it marks a blow to Mr Blair's aim to have another 400 of these schools that no one wants to sponsor.

Which is why we should. Education is too important to be left in the hands of fanatics as we stand to one side and tut. We should aim to sponsor secular, liberal, humanist schools ourselves, to engage with the government's activities (at £2 million per school, it's an absolute bargain!) rather than sighing and blogging about the perils of the academies scheme.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Jews are monkeys, and Christians are worthless"

This kind of sentiment is being taught at King Fahd School in Acton, according to former teacher there, Colin Clarke. This article outlines his allegations in more detail.

The schoolis funded by the Saudi government to teach Wahhabism (?). This shows the kinds of corrosive intolerance which pervades some religious teaching, and is a prime example of why we should not tolerate greater religious influence in state-funded academies. (King Fahd is privately-funded, although the Saudi government could, presumably, afford the £2 million to become an academy sponsor)

The new Labour government has a radical faith-based agenda, and seems to have no discriminatory faculty when it comes to faith groups or businesses. They are, by dint of being faith groups or businesses, obviously a good thing. Let's raise the money to set up our own, faithless schools, and set new standards in education.

Friday, February 02, 2007

No Steiner Academy in Hereford

This report tells of Herefordshire Council's decision not to allow the conversion of the fee-paying Hereford Waldorf School into an Academy, funded by £10 million of government money:

Councillor Godfrey Davis said he couldn't see why government was giving one school "millions" to make itself an academy when the county was crying out for cash to keep village schools going.

I like the fact that it was being branded as an 'eco-academy' to try to make it sound more appealing...