How Academies Threaten the Comprehensive Curriculum

FORUM - ISSN 0963-8253
Volume 50 Number 1 (2008)

How Academies Threaten the Comprehensive Curriculum
ROGER TITCOMBE pages 49-60
DOI: 10.2304/forum.2008.50.1.49


The Freedom of Information Act was used over a three-year period to investigate the curriculum of state schools and academies. The resulting data has shown that spectacular apparent school improvement, in terms of five or more A*-C GCSE /GNVQ passes has been largely brought about by the substitution of mainstream curriculum subjects by much easier vocational alternatives with disproportionate and unjustifiable equivalence to GCSE. Despite academies being exempt from FOI, and their refusal, supported by DCSF, to reveal their subject examination results, strong evidence has been found in individual cases of an extreme use of this strategy to boost headline results and league table performance. Examples are given of worryingly degraded curriculum opportunities in a number of academies for which data has been indirectly obtained, giving rise to concerns that some or even all pupils in some of these schools are being denied a right to a broad and balanced educational experience appropriate to full participatory citizenship in a modern European democracy. Private control of academies is revealed as likely to give rise to the differentiation of curriculum pathways with academic or vocational outcomes designed to meet the needs of the business interests of the sponsor. Questions are raised over the ability of academies to staff a full range of subjects at GCSE and sixth form level with serious consequences for progression to higher education especially for those pupils drafted at an early age into vocational pathways.

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To cite this article
ROGER TITCOMBE (2008) How Academies Threaten the Comprehensive Curriculum, FORUM, 50(1), 49-60.

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