- First, design a performance system that compares every school’s outcome against the national average – thereby ensuring that there will always be a large proportion of schools whose results are deemed ‘broadly average’ (and a chunk of schools deemed significantly below average).
- Create an Inspection system that will declare any school that has consistently attained below-average results to be Inadequate.
- Where schools are found to be Inadequate, claim that this is proof that being “controlled by the local authority” is not working. Hand over all the publicly funded assets of such schools (buildings, land and all) to a private company – along with a huge cash boost to cover “conversion costs”.
- Wipe the slate clean, in terms of the previous years of poor results (because this is now a different school, so those legacy results no longer apply) and re-inspect it before the next set of results are published. With no official results to go on, declare that the school is now Good – now that it is no longer “controlled by the local authority”. (NB it helps if you have a very cosy relationship with the media, so that no-one actually explores the fact that schools haven’t been “controlled by the local authority” for years. Of course, you know full well the reality is that Headteachers and Governing Bodies determine how to run their school, including full control of the budget. And all statutory requirements, such as the National Curriculum, SATs tests etc, are determined by national – not local – government. Make sure this is not discussed by the media.)
- Change the Inspection system so that schools attaining average results are now deemed to “Require Improvement”, rather than be considered Satisfactory. (Sell this idea to the media using the very noble-sounding intention that you want every school to be a ‘Good’ school. Do not mention the fact that this is statistically impossible when you rely upon a norm-referenced data system.)
- Change the law so that schools that have consistently been judged to “Require Improvement” must now be removed from ”local authority control” and handed over to a private academy trust.
Result: you now have a majority of ‘state’ schools owned and run by private companies who can control decisions about school policy, curriculum, resources etc – in such a way that profits are maximised. (NB the ‘academy trust’ itself may be not-for-profit, but it can have close links to educational suppliers, publishers, contractors etc) Private investors can get richer, and those evil local authorities are decimated. (Handy hint: the canny politician can make a bit of extra income here, by investing in such companies prior to handing the assets over. Just watch those share prices soar.)
Follow these simple steps and you can achieve this aim without anyone realising that billions of pounds worth of public assets have been given away to your business associates.
If you have a particular ideological axe to grind, and you want to make things tougher for the socially and economically deprived areas of the country, abolish any data system that compares children’s progress with the progress made by children in schools in similar circumstances (a “contextual” approach) and insist on a system that ignores any such external factors. This will mean that schools that might have been considered to be doing “relatively well given their challenging circumstances” will likely be relegated to being ‘not significantly better than national average’. This will ensure a large stock of ‘Requiring Improvement’ schools situated in economically more deprived areas, where it will be easier to pursue the academisation agenda without parental protest.
You can further push the knife in to these schools by giving them a poisoned chalice of extra cash (‘Pupil Premium’) for all the pupils that are from poorer families – but state that unless this money is spent in such a way that raises the attainment of the poorest children to equal the ever-rising national average, the leadership and management of said school will be deemed Inadequate. For a hard-working Head trying their best to serve a deprived community, it’s a lose-lose situation.
Before you know it, all those loony lefty local authorities up and down the land, who seem intent on trying to serve communities and help the disadvantaged, will have been cut back to nothing, and our schools will be safe in the hands of private enterprise and market forces.