The Albion High School is set to become an academy, despite major problems with Hope High School which subsequently became Oasis Academy MediaCityUK (see here).
The sponsor of the new school, to be named The Albion Academy, is Salford Academy Trust, made up of Salford City College, in partnership with the University of Salford and Salford City Council.
The Academy is already advertising for a `Principal Designate' on a package of up to £100,000 and is set to open in September 2012.
The Albion is currently failing miserably, with getting on for 10% persistent absentees (9.7%), 23 `fixed term' exclusions and 1 permanent exclusion already this year, and, with 43% pass rates in GCSE Maths and English, falling well below both the Salford average (52.6%) and the national average (57%).
However, the idea of academies is opposed by virtually all teachers' trade unions. Indeed the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has a standard letter it sends out to parents which states that teachers "have grave reservations about academy status. They believe that any change to the school should be one which makes a positive difference to children's educational attainment and there is no evidence to show that this school becoming an academy would raise educational standards…
The letter adds: "We hope…you will share our views that the high level of risk involved in academy status far outweighs any of the suggested advantages. The decision to become an academy is irreversible. There is no going back…Any decisions affecting your child's education in such a fundamental way must be taken jointly by parents, staff, governing bodies and the local community."
Under the Academies Act of 2010, The Secretary of State for Education can now 'force' a school to convert into an academy due to perceived poor performance. This might be Salford Council's way around the legislation or as the new Trust states "a Salford solution for schools wishing to convert to Academy status".
This statement appears to suggest that there might well be more Salford schools opting out of the state system. Indeed, Malborough Road Primary School is also to take up academy status under the Salford Academy Trust.
The Salford Star asked Salford City Council for a comment. We never got a reply. We phoned Council Leader John Merry, who is also a governor of The Albion, for a statement. But he never returned our call.
There is no mention of The Albion becoming an academy that we can find on Salford Council's Children Young People and Families Scrutiny panel, and records of minutes for the Children's Services Lead Member Briefing have simply not been posted on the Council's website.
Salford City College, which is the lead partner in the Salford Academy Trust, lists one of its major characteristics as "transparency" but there is nothing on its website news about its takeover of Salford schools.
With Salford schools opting out of local authority control, it's just part of the picture that is showing more and more public services been privatised or hived off to third parties – Salix Homes (housing), Salford Community Leisure (sport and culture), Urban Vision (planning etc), plus home care services are all developments along this path, as accountability and democracy continue to suffer…