Academies: inadequately academic
anastasia de waal, 19 July 2010
Part of an ongoing examination of academies’ curricula, the latest revelation from Parliamentary Questions tabled by Tristram Hunt MP, is that there is a huge shortfall of academic entries in academies.
For example for 2008/09:
* Academies’ GCSE entries for geography over a third lower than the average for all maintained schools: 17% vs. 26%
* Academies’ GCSE entries for modern foreign languages over a third lower than the average for all maintained schools: 26% vs. 41%
* Academies’ GCSE entries for physics a third lower than the average for all maintained schools: 8% vs. 12%
* Academies GCSE entries for history nearly a third lower than the average for all maintained schools: 21% vs. 30%
It is clear that if the academic subject is not compulsory, academies are much less likely to enter their students for it than is the case in other state schools. As academies are supposed to be improving not impoverishing education, to find that the proportion of academy students doing core academic subjects is much lower than the state school average, is as ironic as it is depressing.
We know from this same data, that a number of academies are providing an excellent curriculum: i.e. a genuinely broad and balanced selection of academic and more practical options, with success being achieved in both. However, the pervasive dropping of academic GCSEs is ultimately down to the disastrous combination of authorised secrecy, bogus equivalence and sub-standard pseudo-vocational qualifications which academies. Withdrawing academic GCSEs and replacing them with weak substitutes has been highly beneficial for academies’ league table position but hugely detrimental to the already often limited opportunities available to the young people they serve.
So, in order to ensure that students with often already limited opportunities do not have them shrunk even further, the government must finally put an end to scope for such distortions.