Hinds: More schools should convert to academies

25 Jan 19

Education secretary Damian Hinds has urged more schools to convert to academy status as figures showed half of pupils are now educated in academies.

Damain HindsHinds said academy status gave schools more freedom and opportunity, in a statement released on Wednesday.

“It is fantastic that 50% of the pupils in state-funded schools in the country are now benefitting from the freedom and autonomy that an academy trust enjoys.

“But the academies programme has never really been about structures – it has been about trusting head teachers and school leaders to run schools,” he said.

“Whilst there is a huge amount of diversity in our school system – and there are great schools of all types – I want more schools to choose to become an academy and enjoy the enormous benefits it provides to schools, their staff and pupils.”

The education secretary also highlighted figures indicating that sponsored academies – schools converting because they were considered to be failing –were seeing a rapid improvement in standards.

At the end of 2017, just 1 in 10 sponsored academy predecessor schools were judged to be good or outstanding. After conversion, of that have been inspected, 7 in 10 are considered good or outstanding.

Hinds said: “In the past, schools that failed were allowed to stay under local authority control for far too long.

“Academies have changed all that - failing schools can now be taken away from local bureaucracies who have not been able to improve them and given to school leaders who can.”

However, the National Education Union disputed the data saying there was “no evidence” to justify the “flawed” academies policy or disruption that it causes.

“This analysis shows there is substantial variation in performance of secondary-sponsored academies and that while some perform well, there are some schools with results well below national average performance, even in the groups that have been academies for more than seven years,” said NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney.

“A similar mixed picture is also seen among sponsored primary academies.”

Hinds’ speech came as the Public Accounts Committee issued a highly critical report on accountability in academies.

The influential cross-party committee said local people had to “fight for information” about academy trusts and why certain spending decisions were being made.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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