Head of Education, Michael Gove, is of the opinion that Academy Schools are the best choice for the education system of Britain. Academy Schools were first established by The New Labour Government in 2000 and their numbers have grown exponentially since then. In the year 2010, there were 203 Academy Schools in the UK. There are now nearly 2000 and the numbers are continuing to grow. If the trend remains the same, it could become a real possibility that the majority of our children will one day attend an Academy. The question is, how would attending an Academy School be any different from attending a comprehensive one?
What separates an Academy from a Comprehensive is that the Academy does not have to answer to the Local Education Authority. Despite this, Academies are still publicly funded, but they are also funded privately by a sponsor. This sponsor can be anyone from a wealthy individual in the local area to a private organization. Sponsors have to cover 10% of the schools operating costs. Asinvestors, they can make decisions which directly affect the school’s curriculum.
Academies follow the national curriculum in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science but are allowed much more flexibility as to the rest of the curriculum they offer. This is arranged in such a way that the schools can specialise in certain areas. Specialist areas can include business, computing, maths and a host of others. At the moment, children in Academy Schools still sit the same exams as children in Comprehensive Schools, so the schools still have to teach along the existing curriculum, although the way they teach can vary.
Academy Schools have not been without success and exam results have been similar to those achieved by Comprehensive Schools. However they have still retained a number of their detractors; with beliefs among some being that they are overly selective and that they also create divisions in local communities.
The system itself is still within its infancy and there is no concrete answer as of yet. Let’s just wait and see…