Where does school accountability really lie?


We are all waiting for the Department for Education to publish its promised consultation on school accountability measures in England.

I have referred specifically to educational accountability within previous posts here, here and here. There have been some interesting blog posts/comments about measuring accountability in anticipation of the published consultation, as well as a report yesterday by the Academies Commission. This covered a range of key topics about academies, or state-funded independent schools (similar to US Charter Schools), including their accountability to stakeholders.

Interestingly the Charity Commission submitted written evidence to the Academies Commission about the charitable status of these academies.

In effect the Minister for Education in England, Michael Gove, decides on whether academies are complying with charity laws. He has an individual agreement with each academy making clear what he expects of them and even allowing his officials to attend governing body meetings. While he is a great advocate of delegated autonomy in the education system, and arguably a libertarian at heart, somewhat ironically he has actually moved accountability up the system towards himself! And he is keen on Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, to act as his watchdog.

By contrast, in the US many states and school districts would vehemently oppose any such move by Washington on Charter Schools.

A Washington protest march

A Washington protest march

England doesn’t have a federal system, unlike the US and Germany, and one expected advantage would be a more uniform standard across nationally funded education, which those nations are now trying to achieve through a common curriculum and assessments. But academies are expanding to increase innovation in education so allowing greater variety in local delivery and more freedoms in the curriculum they offer. The role of local authorities is also changing rapidly and in many cases independent local education bodies are starting to be separated off and focus mainly on the children with the greatest need i.e. in care, disabled, disengaged etc.

The only possible change to this scenario will come from the large metropolitan areas such as London, Greater Manchester and Birmingham, which are seeking a coherent framework for education within their local economic and social geography. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is currently planning his next steps on education in the capital which many await with interest.

So where does school accountability really lie?

I’m afraid I can’t give you a straight forward answer to the question.

Perhaps with YOU if you are paying taxes that fund your local schools or have children that go to them.

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One thought on “Where does school accountability really lie?

  1. Pingback: Admissions, accountability and uninformed choices – Part 1 | behrfacts

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