Recent announcements that Croxteth Primary School will be turning into an academy has shocked the community, following a recent Ofsted visit.
The inspection in March 2018 revealed that the school was ‘inadequate’ in many areas, including quality of teaching, lessons, and behaviour. However, less than five years earlier, in November 2013, the school was rated as ‘good’, with a follow up visit in February 2016 highlighting that staff were taking effective action to maintain the high standards of the school. So what has gone wrong?
Without consulting the parents, the school announced that it would be turning into an academy. Academisation of a school means they have complete control over their own curriculum, own spending, and have no authoritative body to answer to – only the central government. It is, essentially, the privatisation of the education system, transforming schools from a centre of learning, into profit-making businesses, and while some academies do thrive, it is much more difficult to monitor and hold academies to account.
Since 2016, the government has said that all schools rated as ‘inadequate’ have to open as sponsored academies. However, the Local Government Association (LGA) has found compelling evidence that these failing schools should continue to be maintained by local authorities: out of 152 schools that remained under local authority control after being rated as ‘inadequate’ in 2013, 75% of them became ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ when they were re-inspected in 2017. In contrast, of the 155 ‘inadequate’ schools that have been re-inspected since becoming academies in 2013, only 59% have become ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
Croxteth Primary, or ‘Little Crocky’ as it is known, is a valuable asset. The buildings are modern and well maintained, and so academy trusts, such as the Rainbow Trust who run St Silas in Toxteth, are eager to take it over, unlike schools that are run down. There are a group of parents who have been protesting this decision – why were they not consulted? After all, it is their children’s education that is at stake. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has now been shut down by the school, as the group have been told it is ‘not the right time’ to contest the decision. The group of parents have also faced a backlash from other parents, while trying to raise awareness about what academisation means for Croxteth Primary.
The parents have been kept in the dark over what is happening next, when it will be turning into an academy, who will be taking it over etc., but they have tried to continue to push for information on the future of their children’s education.
Just before publication, it has come to light that the school will be being taken over by the Rainbow Trust, as of September 2018, despite opposition from some parents. What the precise implications are for the school yet won’t be clear until the process is fully underway. Alt Valley Voice will keep you updated with information as more becomes known.