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The Academies Commission, chaired by former HMCI Christine Gilbert, has published its report (10 January 2013), Unleashing Greatness, which considers both the impact of the academies programme to date and what should happen when the majority of schools may be academies. It is specifically concerned with ensuring that the programme delivers on its aim of improving educational standards across the school system, for the benefit of all pupils. It makes 25 key recommendations, including several on the future role of local authorities.
• The National Audit Office (NAO) have published a report (“Managing the expansion the Academies Programme”) evaluating the implementation of the Schools Academies Programme (“the Programme”) since May 2010, and the adequacy of the Government’s funding and oversight framework across the academies sector.
• The NAO found that while the Department for Education (DfE) has delivered a fundamental change in the nature of the Academies Programme through a rapid, ten-fold increase in their number, but it was unprepared for the scale of the financial implications arising from such a rapid expansion. Consequently, it spent an estimated additional £1billion on the Programme which has led to significant financial pressures within the Department.
• This briefing will be of interest to top-tier local authority cabinet and elected members and officers with responsibilities for education, children’s services and related financial functions.
The think tank Policy Exchange has recently published a report, Competition Meets Collaboration: helping school chains address England’s long tail of educational failure, written by James O’Shaughnessy (previously Director of Policy to Prime Minister David Cameron). It suggests that the academy programme has been effective in raising standards, but ‘a policy designed for a few hundred schools will not be able to cope with the demands of turning around several thousand’. It also suggests that the new Ofsted inspection framework ‘could lead to a fivefold increase in the number of schools being told they need to improve’, and argues that the DfE needs to harness the power of academy chains and other good quality providers to improve standards and that, in order to do so, it needs to make three major changes to its policy framework: implement an ‘industrial policy’ for the school market; introduce a universal, rules-based ‘failure regime’ with clear consequences for underperformance; and harness the power of the private sector to tackle intractable failure.
New LGiU research looks at the future of education governance in light of the fact that more than half of secondary schools are now academies or free schools
Research carried out by the LGiU in 2011 found that most secondary are expected to be academies or free schools by 2015. Ultimately, this could mean that up to 24,000 schools and governing bodies are accountable solely to the Secretary …
Academy Schools under the last Labour government were largely failing schools that had become ‘Sponsored’ Academies. Since the advent of the Coalition government Academy ‘converter’ schools are largely schools that are performing well. This Briefing considers the wider debate about the effectiveness of increased school autonomy and the ‘Sponsored’ academy programme. It then reviews the latest two DfE reports on the current academy programme, the Academies Annual Report 2010/11, and ‘Sponsored’ academy school attainment, Attainment at Key Stage 4 by pupils in Academies 2011.
This article was first published in TES Whatever you think about academies, it seems that they are here to stay. Forty per cent of secondary schools have converted, or are in the process of converting to, academy status and, although …
LGiU Director Jonathan Carr-West has a comment piece in this week’s TES. Jonathan argues that, whatever you think of academy schools, they’re not going away. He argues that there’s a reasonable localist case for academies since true localists should be …
The Guardian reports that Sutton Council is spoiling for a fight with Education Secretary Michael Gove over its plans to raise the cap on primary class sizes to more than 30 pupils. The Chief Executive of Sutton Council Niall Bolger is …
Michael Gove go a bit hot under the collar yesterday morning according to Politics Home. The pace of his academies programme has resulted in some critics branding him an “ideologue” presiding over a massive shake-up of education with little regard for …