A while back, we did a snapshot survey of local authorities to find out if the new schools in their area had been checked for their acoustics. A few got back to us to say that they didn’t know… because all of the new schools in their area are academies.
Academies are schools which have been given a bit more flexibility and freedom to run their own affairs. They are independent of their local authority and are run by a ‘sponsor’ which can be, for example, a large business or a philanthropic organisations. They are often set up in areas of deprivation to shake up the system a bit and try and improve results.
So after getting these replies from local authorities, we decided to approach all new academies directly to find out about their acoustics. We were particularly interested to see what the acoustics are like given that many seem to have bright new buildings with innovative and open plan designs. Not a particularly unreasonable request, we thought. Parents of deaf children are likely to want to know the same thing and the information should be reasonably close to hand.
We contacted over 80 academies directly. So far, nearly 3 months later, only 14 have replied. Meaning that 4 in 5 academies have not bothered to reply.
What makes it worse is that there is not much more we can do to get this information, besides a few stroppy emails to chase. ‘Freedom of Information’ legislation does not allow us to demand information from academies in the same way that we can from public authorities. It means that parents of deaf children and organisations like NDCS have no rights to information about academies.
It raises a few concerns about whether deaf children and their parents are getting the support they need from academies…