I saw a box of Easy Peel Seedless Oranges in the supermarket yesterday they were next to a ready peeled box of orange segments.
I love peeling oranges, breaking the skin, smelling that bitter sweet musky smell on my fingers for hours after. Some oranges are tough to peel, the rind coming off in small unhelpful chunks until you break the fruit inside and the juice soaks you like a dying patient on the operating table; some oranges are a delight to peel, the thick skin falling away to expose the golden segments. Taking time out to peel one and watch the fine fragrant droplets drift in the sunlight is one of life’s little delights.
So why did this box of Easy Peel Seedless Oranges and ready peeled orange segments offend me so much?
They offended me because I see so much being presented in formats that on one level present as ‘progress’ but on another lose the true essence of their full meaning. I am happy peeling an orange. I feel alive taking the time to get to know the orange; they are all different and they all present a varied experience that is worth taking a bantam of time over.
All schools are different. As a school leader one of our key tasks is to peel away the outer layers to find the golden core at the heart. Every school has one– its true spirit and when found it is the difference between mediocrity and something very special. No one can force a one size fits all on every school. Like oranges schools may look similar but take a closer look and they are all different. They all have a multitude of scars, dents, burrs, shapes, sizes and colours. They are unique places and the idea that they can all fit into one simple box under the corporate shelf of academisation is simply wrong. By simply boxing schools up in a lie, tied up in a promise, tricked by a myth, pretending to be a truth we are starting to present a view that is deeply flawed. That a business system means we will create a successful system.
I am proud to run an Academy. I am very proud of what we do. I think we are one of the most unique and special schools in the country. I am proud to show people around. I am proud of my community and I am proud of my staff. The children, all of them, are awesome and my life is better for being a part of their lives…
But, and this is key, it is NOT academisation that makes my school so special.
It is not a business model that gives my school its glow. This, if anything, seems to be more of an issue than a model for school success. It means that we spend more time running the business than I have ever had to in the past. Teaching and learning is passed down the line and is not the main thing I deal with. I am no longer a head teacher… I am forced to be the CEO of a large organisation developing and implementing high-level strategies, making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, and acting as the main point of communication about how it is doing. I have to resist this at each and every moment. My skills have diversified. This works beautifully in the White Paper Academy World… but for many of us it is at odds with the World of School; the sweet melody of learning.
The forced Academy process is like peeling an orange to find that the insides have rotted away so badly that the orange fruit has putrefied and we are left with a withered core that is no longer fit for its original purpose. Making an argument for academy conversion on education grounds is utterly wrong. I am all for schools coming together, MATing (If they want to) in fact I look forward to doing this myself… BUT, for the right reasons, the choice of the community who can see the benefits rather than be told that the one size fits all benefits will work for them (whether they want it or not). That is why @NickyMorgan01 has got it SO wrong and is about to join the Jeremy Hunt fan club dragging education in to industrial action on an unprecedented scale.