Foolishness of Tory education policy laid bare | Letters

To describe the record of the academy schools programme as “patchy”, as your print headline did, is a gross understatement (Editorial, 29 March). The rapid expansion of academies since 2010, on the whim of an ignorant education secretary, has led to vast sums of public money being thrown at a system that has failed to raise standards while being repeatedly mired in scandals.

The most recent report of the cross-party public accounts committee (PAC) complains of “tens of millions of public money used to ‘prop up’ poorly managed academy schools” in a system that lacks financial transparency and is unaccountable to parents and the local community. Similar complaints have been repeatedly made by the PAC since 2010, and investigative journalists have repeatedly exposed the murky governance and dubious financial behaviour of academy trusts. An outstanding example of the latter from 2018 is on the Guardian’s own website.

Schools and councils may indeed be worn out by repeatedly fighting the government’s agenda, but their resistance might have been strengthened had there been any worthwhile political opposition.
Michael Pyke
Campaign for State Education

Re your article (Plans for England’s schools include national behaviour survey, 28 march), the education targets set out in the government’s white paper are unrealistic if we continue to overlook the importance of early years education. We cannot expect primary school children to achieve ambitious results in key stage 2 reading, writing and maths if they are not given the right support in their pre-school years. A recent survey of teachers by the Early Years Alliance found that 50% of reception-age children are not ready to start school.

By the time children reach the age of five, disadvantaged pupils are already more than four months behind their better-off peers when it comes to educational development. It’s a gap that will persist throughout their schooling. Without an associated early years strategy, these new targets place a disproportionate strain on overworked primary school teachers and won’t get the results ministers are looking for.
Brett Wigdortz
CEO, Tiney, and founder, Teach First

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