‘The hollow feeling of inevitability...’

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I READ with sadness, and yet with that hollow feeling of inevitability, the decision of the board of governors of Worthing High School to proceed with an application for academy status.

It is quite clear that this decision had already been taken some time ago, and that the so-called consultation was merely a charade.

Why did the head or governors not wish to actually engage with those opposed to the plan despite several invitations to do so?

The list of objections to becoming an academy is so long that it could fill up the entire letters page, and yet not one of them was properly addressed by those who made the decision.

And those objections are not theoretical ones, but ones based on the previous experience of schools which have already become academies.

In announcing the result of the vote, which read more like a company CEO report rather than one from a head teacher, Alison Beer stated that “Now that we are able to move ahead with our application and will soon have a much clearer idea of our funding position, we will then be able to give details of our financial plans.

“There will be an annual financial report available to you so that you are able to feel fully informed regarding our financial position”.

So, if it wasn’t clear before, it is now – finances are the most important thing, and the school will become a fully-fledged “business”. So what happens if the school gets into difficulties, even if it is through no fault of its own through an unforeseen event, when there is no local authority backup?

Make no mistake – academies are a further step in the privatisation of our education system, and we all know what happens to a private business when there is no financial safety net.

This, of course, may be beneficial to some vested interests, but the statistics from the majority of previous school conversions to academy status show that there is one group that doesn’t really benefit at all – the students!

When grant-maintained schools were first being pushed as the panacea to our educational problems, parents were given a vote.

Unsurprisingly, the plan was deemed a failure, since most voted against. This time, there is no vote allowed, maybe because if all the issues were openly debated then the result would probably be the same – a No.

It is quite clear we are no longer allowed “democratic process” when there is a risk that a “wrong” answer may result!

Given the nature of how academies operate, and the way in which this decision has been made, it should be a clear warning as to how future decisions will be taken at Worthing High School. Behind closed doors and unaccountable, with a worthless “consultation”.

T. Hodgson

Pavilion Road

Worthing