Created: 05 April 2011
During a debate on General Matters, Bob Blackman drew attention to the seven schools in Harrow that are now considering a move towards academy status. Park High, Canons High and Bentley Wood High are within Mr Blackman's constituency of Harrow East and Nower Hill, Harrow Hill and Rooks Heath College are in Harrow West; as such, the potential move to academy status would have an immediate impact on schooling in the area, affecting many of Bob's constituents.
The background to the issue has to be understood. During the 1990s in Harrow, only two schools decided to go grant maintained, the rest remaining under local authority control. Therefore, some 74% of secondary places are now in schools that are under consideration to become academies. According to Ofsted, all the schools are classified as outstanding. However, we cannot be complacent, because that takes no account of academic capability or the results achieved in those schools.
Despite the fact that in most of the schools in the London Borough of Harrow between 30% and 60% of the children are eligible for free school meals, the last Government put Harrow at the back of the queue for the Building Schools for the Future programme. The previous lack of investment means that the additional funding the seven schools would gain would add up to just over £3 million every year would be vital investment in the future education of our children.
Bob continued to express his concerns about the misrepresentation of the nature of academy status by Harrow Council and stressed that whilst academies are given greater freedoms over their curriculum, it must be broad and balanced, and have a core of subjects including maths, English and science. Whilst it is vital that we support and encourage failing and low-performing schools we must remember that there should be no cap on success in the education system and as such, already high performing schools should be allowed to prosper and achieve more under this new leadership.
In May, the governing bodies of all seven schools will make a decision. It will be a momentous decision for the future not only of the individual schools but of the education system in the borough. It is hoped that those governing bodies will make the right decision, set themselves free and improve education for all the people of Harrow.
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