Educational Reforms: Academies And Free Schools

2010 saw the continuation of educational reforms in the UK. Arguably one of the most significant changes (setting aside the issue of University fees and resulting public outcry) has been the implementation of The Academies Bill.

The Bill put forward by the coalition government aims to reduce budgetary deficit and spread social responsibility by inviting all UK schools to apply for academy status. Also on the cards is the freedom for parents to set up their own Free Schools. This system currently operates in Holland, with a huge proportion of Free Schools being specifically focussed on a particular religious ideology, subject theme or learning platform ethos.

Academies are publicly funded (by central government rather than the local authority), self managed schools operating outside of local authority control. This gives them far greater control over financial decisions (e.g. teachers pay), curriculum choices, administration norms (school management software etc) and all-round learning circumstances for students. Free schools tend to be much smaller (academies are usually converted state or private schools) but are funded similarly.

Local authorities will retain an element of control over academies and free schools. Their duty to ensure effective education for all children of relevant legal age remains unchanged. Admissions responsibility also falls at the door of local authorities, highlighting the importance of efficient linking school management system standards. Ofsted will also continue its assessment role, seeing school inspectors trail the halls of academies and free schools alike.

The governments aim for academies is to encourage a positive educational revolution. School management systems will no longer be set out and policed by local authorities, giving rise in theory to a new breed of more efficient, high achieving educational establishments free from target-driven hindrances and bureaucracy; freedom, flexibility and independence being the buzz words of The Academies Bill.