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Bradford principal speaks up for academies
Every school should become an independent academy, says a Bradford principal, because Council schools cannot match their results.
Nick Weller, head of the five Dixons academies in the city, said local authorities lacked “democratic accountability” and should not oversee schools.
Instead, they should all be run by academy chains, which had proved – in Bradford and elsewhere – that they could turn around failing schools more quickly. Giving evidence to MPs, Mr Weller pointed to the success of Dixons Allerton, since it opened as an academy on the site of the failing Rhodesway School in 2009.
He said: “For 15 years it had been on the slide and had been in special measures for the longest time of any school in the country – from 2002 all the way through to 2006. It was a very, very different school. There’s no evidence that a local authority would have that impact.”
As well as Dixons Allerton, two other secondaries are part of the chain – Dixons City Academy, a former City Technology College, and Dixons Trinity Academy, a newly-opened ‘free’ school.
It also boasts two primaries, the Dixons Music free school and Dixons Marchbank, formerly Bradford Moor Community School.
Mr Weller is chief executive of The Bradford Partnership, the support group for all 31 secondaries in the city – both academies and local authority schools. He was giving evidence to the Commons education select committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into the exploding numbers of academies and free schools.
David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, who quizzed Mr Weller as a member of the committee, said he supported all schools having ‘academy freedoms’. But he added: “If Nick is suggesting that every single school should become an academy, then I disagree. That’s not the way forward.”
And Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for education, said: “Mr Weller has a puritanical, ideological streak on this one.
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