In the first of our ‘Teacher, Incognito’ series we follow up on the academy debate by talking to one teacher whose school has just received some news…
What does it mean to be forced to become an academy?
The answer to the above question is, I’m not entirely sure. My school has just been Ofsteded, and was eventually graded as unsatisfactory and therefore has been placed in special measures. Concurrently, it was forced to become an academy. At the moment, I don’t really have any idea what this means.
I have read articles and heard lengthy debates about the notion at the pub. I’ve spoken to different teachers from different schools and heard their judgements about the system they now work in. Now I am faced with becoming part of the new academy statistic (and incidentally have no choice in the matter) the horizon looks a little daunting.
I have been a teacher for the past 7 years. How will the school I have happily worked at for that time change its ethos? And will we have to ‘rebrand’ and change our identity? Will we have new staff, from other schools in the ‘chain’? Does that mean we will we have new leadership? How will the uniform change? Will the school dinners be catered for by the same company? What links will we have with our partner school? Will I get paid the same as before? And will I keep my job?
I know that my concerns are shared by a large majority of the staff who are also new to the news, even though in retrospect we should have seen it as an inevitability. I think it’s the general sense of confusion and insecurity that makes the situation so unnerving. In some circles, academies are seen to drive up standards by making the head teacher more autonomous, offer more freedom to the staff, and ultimately provide schools with more money.
So then what is the issue? I think it’s the lack of transparency and consistency in the matter. Nobody knows what comes next. Like many other teachers, have heard horror stories about teachers being forced to work at another place or in a different part of the city after being academised. I have also heard stories about stalls in pay progression and having to wear a trouser suit to work. I want to work in education, not in a corporation. We just don’t know how it will play out.
The students do not know this is the fate of the school yet, but I know that they will be similarly confused about the outcome and what will come next. I hope that over the coming months things will be clarified for them, as well as me.