“Andrew Adonis”:http://education.guardian.co.uk/policy/story/0,,1602670,00.html may not be right about how to mend the state system, but at least he sees it’s broken. There was [“a brief fuss in the papers”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/21/nedu21.xml] at the end of last week because one of the “Academies” had been put on notice by Ofsted.
I wasn’t surprised by this — when [“I went to the creationist Academy”:http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=6532&issue=492&category=&author=416] in Middlesbrough, the very impressive headmaster told me that he didn’t believe that 200 academies could solve the problems of poorly performing schools, essentially because he doubted there were 200 headmasters and — what — 20,000 teachers of sufficient calibre. That sounds arrogant, but it has the ring of truth.
When you look at the figures, though, the story becomes more complicated. The measure of “five good GCSEs” is essentially asking whether children can read or write, no more than that. The Bexley Academy has been judged to fail because only 30% of the children leave with these useful skills. That’s failure by anyone’s measure. But what are we to make of the comprehensive it replaced, where the pass rate was *four per cent?*
How could any system of more formal selection betray the poor or stupid more than that?