Thursday, 3 June 2010

Hackney academy silent over teacher exodus claims

Before half-term the Petchey Academy was asked how many teachers would leave the school this year and whether its maths department was moving to the new Skinners Academy.

The questions were sent directly to the school but also to the press office of the Learning Trust and the PR agency of the Jack Petchey Foundation. Spokespersons for the foundation and the trust spoke to Blood and Property.

But, despite emails and telephone calls, the academy has not acknowledged receiving the questions (whether it is correct that as many as 30 teachers may leave the school). The lack of a response may have been due preparations for half term but there are already concerns about how academies communicate with the community. Academies - your secret is safe

When Blood and Property asked Jules Pipe, elected Mayor of Hackney, if the Freedom of Information Act should apply to academies: (Jules Pipe answers Blood and Property questions) he said: "The Freedom of Information of Act should indeed apply to Academies. They are not currently subject to the FoI Act, however, under section 5 the Secretary of State has the power to designate as a public authority a body that appears to exercise functions of a public nature, or that provide public authority services under contract. A consultation last year considered to which bodies this should apply. Academies are now being proposed for inclusion, along with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Financial Ombudsman Service, and UCAS. The Ministry of Justice has consulted with these organisations about their potential inclusion and is considering their responses."

Last year Diane Abbott told Blood and Property: "I am concerned about the lack of transparency both in relation to academies and in relation to The Learning Trust itself. But there is no question that academies are hugely popular with Hackney parents and they are all massively oversubscribed."

A couple of days ago Meg Hillier provided MPs (June 2 debate via with a mission statement for Hackney academies: "There is still more to do, of course. Bridge, Petchey and City academies in Hackney, which are yet to have GCSE years, are all working to emulate the Mossbourne example. It would also be interesting to discuss with Ministers the establishment of a 14-to-18 academy in Hackney community college."

Might it be a good idea to find out what is really going on in Hackney academies before asking for more of them?


  1. It used to be the same with Housing Associations. One of them claimed they didn't have to adhere to the Freedom of Information Act. Went all the way to the courts. They lost their case, fortunately, and now they all have to be transparent.

    Fancy starting judicial proceedings against an Academy to set some new case law?

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  3. Hi Dave, good to meet you yesterday. I'm not sure about judicial proceedings, I wouldn't know where to start.

    I've got a feeling that even with the Freedom of Information Act there's quite a delay on anything useful appearing. I probably need to do my homework but weren't MP's expenses revealed illegally by the people doing data entry, not via the channels of FOI (it's not something I know, just heard)?

    The strangest thing about the petchey story (if it is true) is the idea that staff might be being poached by another Hackney Academy - the whole maths department going to Skinners. That schools might be competing like businesses over resources. In the end that might lead to some sort of transparency, but it'd probably be a grim process.

  4. Just thought I'd add this link on the failed attempt to expose MPs expenses through FOI and how it was an illegal act which eventually pushed the information into the public domain.

    How I blew up the duck house