David Carter: The weakest academies will be supported not ‘shamed’

David Carter: The weakest academies will be supported not 'shamed'

The country’s 100 weakest academies will be singled out for increased government scrutiny from January as the schools commissioner ramps up implementation of his masterplan to improve failing schools.

Schools Week can reveal that the 100 secondary academies with the lowest Progress 8 scores, which we understand will be known as the “P100”, are to be identified by Sir David Carter (pictured) and eligible for extra support from January.

The plan to support weaker academies was reported earlier this year, but this is the first time that some of the details, such as timing, can be revealed.

It is understood the schools will not be “named and shamed” – a much-criticised tactic employed by Tony Blair’s Labour government – but they will be identifiable when progress data is published next year.

The schools will get extra support from regional school commissioners, who will then be held accountable for the schools’ performance.

It comes as Carter this week unveiled plans to introduce “mentor MATs”, whereby larger academy chains will help schools to form a multi-academy trust.

Schools will not be “named and shamed” – a much-criticised tactic

Speaking at a Westminster Education Forum on Wednesday, he said: “The idea is that trusts across the country that have been successful and built their capacity, those that have been through that [growth] journey, can provide a relationship for maybe two to three years to enable new MATs to get set up and focus just on school improvement.”

He said the more experienced trusts would be able to pick up the “daunting checklist” of tasks needed to create a multi-academy trust, leaving schools to focus on “front-end practices”.

“The knowledge these trusts have of how we have developed the system is really powerful and a useful resource.

“We have all this resource in the system – if we continue to not work with it we are never going to get an outstanding education system.”

Schools Week understands that the plan for “mentor MATs” is still in the “development stage”, but could start up next year. Rather than a national project, it is likely to be driven by a need from schools.

Carter is yet to gauge the interest from large academy trusts.

But Sir Steve Lancashire, chief executive of REAch2, which runs more than 50 schools, told Schools Week this was a “very positive development” that would formalise the support established MATs already provided.

Anything that builds capacity in the system and uses the strengths of sponsors can only be a good thing

Toby Salt, chief executive of Ormiston academies trust, added: “As a more established MAT we do believe that we should be professionally generous in supporting emerging trusts.

“Anything that builds capacity in the system and uses the strengths of sponsors can only be a good thing, but we all have things to learn from each other.”

Regional schools commissioners (RSCs) will review how effective the improvement support is for each of the P100 schools. Carter will then hold the RSCs to account should the school’s performance not improve by January 2019.

Schools Week understands that RSCs could use teaching schools to deliver the additional support.

Initial proposals proved contentious. Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris federation, reportedly said that a school’s sponsors should be accountable for its performance, rather than civil servants.

Carter will also unveil in January his new multi-academy trust health checks, to ensure trusts are well-placed to expand before they are handed new schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are continuing to look how we can improve under-performing academies and the action plans RSCs are putting in place to tackle this issue.”