29 February 2008
The freedom of management enjoyed by academy schools should be applied more widely, a market-leaning think-tank said this week.
In a report for Reform, Richard Tice, chair of governors at Northampton Academy, described the practical effect of academy status on his school, which had been badly under-performing. Management freedom had transformed the ability and willingness of the school's leaders to take decisions, he said, resulting in changes to teaching and discipline policies.
'It has increasingly become clear to me that the freedom of the independent management structure devised for academies is the main driver to their success, where so many others have failed to manage these schools beforehand.
'While the new facilities and buildings are an important, much-needed addition in a deprived inner urban area, they do not on their own improve overall performance. This comes from the management and leadership.'
He called for academy principles to be rolled out across the entire state sector, with teachers' pay and conditions set locally, higher salaries for senior managers in schools and a more business-like approach.
Tice was critical of the power of teaching unions, which he described as the 'blockers of reform'.
The unions responded in kind. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said Tice failed to understand how ordinary secondary schools function.
'His belief that schools should behave like businesses proves this,' she said. 'All schools have a high degree of management independence, the national pay system has huge flexibility, the unions in the social partnership, including ATL, are championing reform rather than blocking it and have been working on a new rigorous performance system for teachers and heads. But perhaps Mr Tice is opposed to staff being treated fairly?'