Sunday, 3 July 2011

Lord Adonis calls for "A new settlement between state and private education".

"A new settlement between state and private education". The title of Lord Adonis' Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Annual Lecture (28 June 2011) says it all.

His starting point is a pragmatic one:
England in 2011 is governed by a Prime Minister educated at Eton, a Deputy Prime Minister from Westminster, a Chancellor from St Paul’s. Charterhouse, Rugby, Radley, Wellington and Cheltenham Ladies College are all in the Cabinet too, along with a second from Westminster; almost all of them children of very wealthy parents. We do indeed have a coalition government – a coalition between Eton and Westminster. It is only a slightly broader coalition which funds, manages and entertains the country too.

Seen in this way – the dominance of a privately educated elite over the social, economic and political life of this country – you realise why it is so important, if we are ever to be one nation, to have the people who run the private schools, and who teach in and attend these schools, engaged institutionally and intimately with state education too.
Lord Adonis' solution is one with which we are familiar:
Every successful private school, and private school foundation, should sponsor an academy or academies, in place of existing underperforming comprehensives. They should do this alongside their existing fee-paying school or schools, turning themselves into federations of private and state schools, following the lead of a growing number of private schools and their foundations which have done precisely this and would not think of going back, including Dulwich, Wellington, the Haberdashers, the Mercers, the Girls Day School Trust, the City of London Corporation and the King Edward VI Foundation in Birmingham.

And by sponsoring academies I don’t just mean advice and assistance, the loan of playing fields and the odd teacher, etc. I mean the private school or foundation taking complete responsibility for the governance and leadership of an academy or academies, and staking their reputation on their success as they currently do on the success of their fee-paying schools.
Like Dulwich, Wellington et al, Berkhamsted is ahead of the game. We are sponsors of the Wren Academy in Finchley. The school is now in its third year and is an outstanding success. I am proud to be part of a committed Governing Body at Wren that is able to support an outstanding, forward-thinking Senior team.

I support much of Lord Adonis' vision for a greater collaboration between the Maintained and Independent sectors. To echo his words, the "Berlin Wall" between them has stood too long and it is time to break it down.

1 comment:

  1. Tweet from @UKpolicywatch

    Adonis' call for independent schools to sponsor academies in tough areas assumes that state school failure is rooted in pedagogy not poverty