The continuing debate about the fairness of academy schools intensified recently when the Office of the School Adjudicator (OSA) ruled against the Charter School in Dulwich, South London. The adjudicator said that the school had deliberately made subtle changes in its catchment area policy in order to exclude children from two nearby council estates. The school had not taken into account path that students from the council estate would use to get to the school.
The OSA claims that the changes mean that there is a “risk of skewing its [the school’s] intake against some economically and socially disadvantaged pupils”.
The ruling comes at an important time; recently legislation from the Education Act 2011 came into effect which means that all new schools must at least consider becoming an academy or free school. Last week, Michael Gove (the Education Secretary), said that he expects “more than half” of secondary schools would become academies before the end of this parliament.
The actions of the Charter School will validate the concerns of those who oppose academies (including the NUT, NASUWT & Institute of Education) who fear that a system of academy schools will lead to a two-tier education system – with poorer students being left behind.
The Charter school, which was awarded ‘Outstanding’ status by Ofsted in 2009, responded to the OSA ruling by saying that it would implement some new admissions policies in the wake of the decision but that it would also be challenging some of the assertions.
What do you think of what the Charter School has done? Has any school or academy you know done a similar thing? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.