The Scottish Conservatives spokesperson for Education and the Undead has accused the Scottish Government of abject failure in not creating a single ‘Zombie Academy School’ in Scotland. England has surged ahead with ‘hundreds of them.’ BBC Scotland’s fearless Disclosure team has found that there are no Academy Schools at all, never mind Zombie ones, in Scotland.
Head of BBC Scotland since the recent Zombie invasion of Pacific Quay, Jackie Bird (above), said: ‘Gnnnaaaauuushhhhgnnnnnarrrr!’ but after sniffing him thoroughly, would not eat the Conservative spokesperson.
What is a Zombie Academy School?
In the Guardian yesterday:
‘53,000 pupils in limbo after rise in ‘zombie’ academy schools. Rising numbers of pupils in England are being taught in state schools that have been left to drift for months or even years without established management, according to figures obtained by Labour. It estimated that more than 50,000 pupils are currently attending academies in England that have been unable to join a multi-academy trust or find a sponsor, leading the opposition to claim that the government’s flagship schools’ improvement policy is in tatters. The figures are an increase on the 40,000 pupils trapped in 64 similar “zombie schools” uncovered by a Guardian investigation 16 months ago, suggesting that the Department for Education (DfE) is still struggling to find willing sponsors.’
Hi John – have to say that Jackie seems to be looking a lot happier and less stressed since announcing her retirement!
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The term ‘zombie’ is a relatively new one. For a number of years they have been known as ‘orphan’ schools.
Some years ago there was a funding crisis affecting a huge number of public sector schools in England because the funding formula had been changed. The borough in which my daughter lives was one which was particularly severely effected (lots of areas of multiple deprivation and no Tories elected in any capacity for years – so a prime target for this nasty government) A parents group had been formed to fight the funding cuts and, given my experience in management in Scotland, I offered to help and advise.
However, very soon, I realised that the system in England has diverged so much from what we have in Scotland, that I had little to offer because democratic control had been completely removed. The borough had no Education Department and thus no cadre of experts to help and protect parents. Even the local MP, who was a pretty formidable woman, had no real educational expertise amongst her advisors. The parents were pretty much on their own.
The largest school in the borough was nearly the same size as the last one I worked in before my retirement. But, it was an ‘orphan’ school because none of the academy groups would take it on – too many children from areas of multiple deprivation, large numbers from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, many children with special needs. Thus this school did not score highly on the ‘tests’ and was low on ‘the league tables’. Thus it was not ‘profitable’ for an academy to take it on.
The curriculum had been pared back to cut costs – no music, art, drama. Of the 5 timetabled periods of maths only 3 were with a qualified maths teacher, with the others delivered by computer and supervised by classroom assistants. Teaching staff was generally young – cheaper!. There was no promoted post structure other than the Head Teacher and two deputies, whom I think were called ‘executives’. When I was a Head Teacher I was well paid, but the scale was reasonably proportionate to the rest of the teaching staff. The Head Teacher of this ‘orphan school’ paid himself THREE TIMES what I was paid, for running a slightly smaller school with a narrower curriculum.
I heard a short while later he had been dismissed for leaking the answers to Standardised Assessment Tests (SATs) to pupils. Funding and other ‘reputational’ matters depend on SATs results. This is the destructive aspect of the testing and league tables regime – it provides a meagre curriculum and it puts staff – including this HT – under ridiculous pressure.