New research has revealed the scale of British parents’ disapproval of the school academy system, with more than a third (34%) stating that they’d even remove their children from school if it planned to convert.
The study, conducted by Oxford Home Schooling, surveyed 750 British parents of children aged between five and 16 years old, and found that nearly two in five (39%) think that the government should scrap the academy system.
Interestingly, this figure is higher among parents of children who attend academy schools, with 43% believing the initiative should be stopped.
This year there have been a number of high-profile protests against the academisation of schools, with some parent groups even managing to successfully block conversions.
The grievances cited for such anti-academy views are varied, but some of the major concerns include a lack of accountability (47%) and the belief that academies are more motivated by growth and profits than child development (45%). Once again, parents of academy attendees were particularly vocal in their discontent, with higher rates of apprehension than the national average (51% and 48% respectively).
The top five worries British parents have about the school academy system are:
1) Academies represent a move towards the privatisation of education – 53%
= Academies can be selective – 53%
3) Academies are motivated by the vision of the CEO – 51%
4) Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum – 48%
5) Academies are unaccountable for their decisions and actions – 47%
With British parents holding academies in such disregard, it’s perhaps unsurprising that two in five (40%) adults with children in non-academy schools would be against their schools converting or joining a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) – a group of schools working together under one board of directors.
In the last five years, the number of state-run schools in England that hold academy status has more than doubled, from 3,827 in 2014, to 8,398 in 2019. Academies now represent 35% of all English schools, up from 16% in 2014, with three-quarters of these being part of a MAT.
Oxford Home Schooling’s research found that while more than half (56%) of academy pupils’ parents claim that schools benefit from being part of such chains, more than a third (34%) didn’t know whether their own child’s institution was part of a MAT.
Dr Nick Smith, principal at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “The academisation of schools has been, and continues to be, one of the most controversial issues in British education in recent years.
“While there are a number of benefits to the initiative, like schools being able to spend funding in ways that are best for their community, there is clearly a large and growing proportion of parents that are against the idea.
“Our research has highlighted how strongly people feel about the topic. With this in mind, schools and academy leaders would be wise to consult with parents to address their doubts about the system before forcing institutions to change their identity.”