“Outstanding” comprehensive rejects academy status

Headmaster pans “punitive” Ofsted

The headmaster of Southgate Secondary school, an Enfield-based comprehensive rated as “outstanding” by schools watchdog Ofsted, has said Academy status would “shut us off from other schools“.

The government is encouraging schools to adopt academy status, which, according to the government, frees them from local authority and national government control.

But during an interview on education policy, Headmaster Anthony Wilde said collaborating with other schools would be harder if Southgate left local authority control. Southgate helps local schools by supporting headmasters and seconding teachers.

“We want to collaborate [with other schools] as well as compete,” said Wilde.

The government has also introduced the ‘English Baccalaureate’ (EB) – a special certificate for pupils obtaining grade C or above in English and maths, one each from science and humanities, as well as a foreign language. Mr Wilde said while they would support students in obtaining the EB certificate, it was important not to discourage pupils who preferred other subjects, such as Art.

Deprived neighbourhoods

He described Ofsted’s inspection regime as “punitive”, because while praising good schools, it punishes schools in deprived neighbourhoods, sometimes threatening them with closure.

Asked about the Free School Policy allowing parents to set up new schools, Wilde said it was “a good idea” because it “encourages smaller, more focused schools”. But in reality, “only middle class parents” applied to set them up. He also said that comprehensives could become more focused themselves by creating smaller school units.

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