King's School, Tynemouth

in Education

On private schools becoming academies.

The King’s School isn’t too far away from where I live. It’s about to merge with a local primary school to turn from being a £9,990/year private school into an Academy.

I have mixed feelings about this, for a number of reasons. But first, a couple of (massive) disclaimers:

  • I attended a session for ‘potential Oxbridge candidates’ at The King’s School when I was 17 years old and felt very out of place
  • I used to be a senior leader in an Academy and didn’t have the happiest of times whilst I was there

If you’ve read what I’ve written for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m against private schools. So a school moving from independently-funded to state-funded status, should be a win – right?

I’m not so sure.

First of all, the Academy system as it now stands is problematic. It strikes me that the current government have taken the previous administration’s programme and turned it into a trojan horse to remove the power of Local Authorities, to eventually disapply the entire school population from the National Curriculum, and to create a pseudo-market in state-funded education.

Second, as one parent mentions in the Guardian article it’s not a good thing if a private school merging with a state school is being done “to prop up a school that’s failing to recruit enough students”. Could it be that, like banks, private schools could see government funding as a ‘bailout’?

Finally, and this is something that many people have reminded me of in my attacks upon private education, nothing happens in a vacuum. Compared to the local area, Tynemouth is already an extremely expensive area in which to live. My family certainly couldn’t afford to live there. Chances are that selection-by-fee-paying will be replaced by selection-by-house-price.

So we have a fudge. A pseudo-market in a pseudo-state system with pseudo-traditional examinations.

Perhaps it’s time to move to Scotland.

Image CC BY-NC Paul Thirkell

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  1. Scotland have invented a system where all schools have identical outputs? Without that parents who can make active choices regarding their child’s education will do. Unless Scotland will be informing parents which school their child will attend, regardless of where they live…

  2. What is also being overlooked is the hostile takeover of a local primary removes a lot of talented students from the local secondaries, thus increasing a significant pupil roll issue and possibly dooming one of the other LEA secondaries to closure

  3. And another thing. It was interesting watching the Woodard corporate exec as he spoke to camera. No emotion (unlike Microsoft edu employees), no debate – the spreadsheet had spoken; no wonder the enlightenment, covenanting, invention of the pneumatic tyre had occured much further northwards