Why Attenborough Learning Trust’s Plans for Leicester’s Schools Should be Opposed

Attenborough Learning Trust is a planned multi-academy trust that will take six of Leicester’s primary schools out of the democratic control of the local authority, these being Highfields Primary School, Uplands Infant School, Sparkenhoe Community Primary School, Shenton Primary School, Green Lane Infant School, and Medway Community Primary School.

The Trust is presently in the middle of trying to sell their new enterprise to the people of Leicester, but they will have their work cut out, as despite all their nice sounding blurb, academies simply make no sense at all. Attempting to woo the public, Attenborough Learning Trust state on their web site that:

“The primary objective of the partnership is to deliver increased learning opportunities for children, broadening the perspective of all young people so that they and their families place no limits on their opportunities and ambitions, in order to achieve improved outcomes and life chances for all.”

But surely this is what the six schools were doing all along, why the change? After all Leicester is a proud Labour city and we already know that if a Labour government came to power in the next few months – which is now looking increasingly likely – one of their first actions will be to halt and reverse academy conversions. As Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner, made clear only last month, an incoming Labour government will…

“…start by immediately ending the Tories’ academy and free schools programmes. They neither improve standards nor empower staff or parents.”

This is the primary reason why Leicester as a local authority has opposed academy conversions.

It is also important to note that the government itself can summon up no evidence to show that academies are able to “deliver increased learning opportunities for children”. Thus in 2015 the House of Commons Education Committee released a report entitled “Academies and free schools” which said that “We have been unable to locate any evidence … of a relationship between primary academy status and raised attainment.”

Likewise, another report released by the same Committee in 2017 that was concerned with the performance of multi-academy trusts explained that:

“We heard from numerous sources that the means by which local communities can hold their trust to account is less clear than in maintained school structures … We were told by parents that MATs are not sufficiently accountable to their local community and they feel disconnected from decision making at trustee board level”.

It is for this and many other reasons that academies should not be seen as a means of broadening the “opportunities and ambitions” of our children. But if you do want to find information about why academies are bad then read the excellent leaflet that was recently produced by the National Education Union, with the self-explanatory title: “Academies – the facts against conversion.”

academy leaflet

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