Recent award ceremonies for schools highlight the great work that local authority schools are doing…

We’ve had two important teaching award ceremonies fairly recently — the TES School Awards and the Education Business Awards — where a number of schools and teachers have received deserved accolades. My son’s own school, Bethnal Green Technology College, received the award for the most improved school. I know this award is important for the school in raising its profile both nationally and locally and is richly deserved; as has been documented before on this website, the school is transforming the lives of the pupils — over half of whom are on Free School Meals — by raising aspirations and achievement. It’s interesting to note that quite a few of the schools are or recently were local authority schools; this includes BGTC (shortly to become an Academy), Passmores Academy (which was an LA school until this September) Rokeby SchoolSir John Lawes School, and Redwood School. Personally, I’m a pragmatist regarding the Academy issue and can sympathise with converter schools, but I can’t help feeling that there’s a lesson for the government here: many local authority schools, by any measure, are doing a great job. Indeed, as these awards show, they are out-performing many academies. And yet, the government would have us believe that it’s only free schools and academies that are truly effective.

It’s interesting to note that the Education Business Awards has special categories for Academies: Best Partnership Award (sponsored by Kumon), Academy Development Award (sponsored by Capital Solutions), and Outstanding Academy Award (sponsored by Kumon). It’s perhaps a bit worrying in the light of this that there is no local authority school award. Perhaps the LSN should sponsor this? (If we had any money!)

Both the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary aren’t doing anyone any favours by constantly attacking them. Indeed, one wonders if they were paying any attention to these award ceremonies…

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Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing (fgipublishing.com) which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network, www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, www.francisgilbert.co.uk. He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

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