School or Academy – Is There A Difference?

So for some time now I’ve been hearing talk of academies and learning academies in place of schools and all these new exams and haven’t had a clue what the difference is, a lot of those I spoke to on the matter didn’t know either. Cue a little rummaging for answers. 

The whole learning academies thing is a relatively new phenomenon and they’ve been replacing a lot of schools around the country over a couple of short years. It was one of those ‘wonderful’ ideas of the government back in 2000 to drive up standards, initially called city academies and later rolling out into more rural areas. The main difference between them though is funding. 

Academies are independently run – no government input – and in order to qualify for the status, schools have to raise £2 million from private companies, normally local businesses.  There’s also the fact that acadamies are all-abilities, there’s no limit (upper or lower) so children that would normally go to a state-run grammar school share classes to those that would sit at a normal comprehensive. There’s also bigger clases. 

It’s not a case that the curriculum is ignored, in fact the acadamies all meet the standards, but there’s a huge range of specialities at the academies such as sports sciences, that would normally be part of a higher-educatio course, and run more like a business. Which, at basic level, they are. They don’t have guidance from the government and seek advice from higher-education establishments like universities.

As the main difference boils down to funding, there’s a huge argument that learning academies are merely a way for the government to privatise the education system and farm out responisibility for funding the education of the country’s youth. There’s also debate around the teaching methods – is aplying the methods and courses usually found in higher-learning appropriate for younger students?

So for all their new-look and approach methods, are academies just a way for the government a way to get rid of the burden of the education system and allow businesses to teach skills they need in the labour market?


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