DfE reveals trust leaders advising on review of academy regulation

Two-thirds of the advisory group represent academy trusts, with the DfE planning the regulatory overhaul despite a climbdown over its schools bill

Two-thirds of the advisory group represent academy trusts, with the DfE planning the regulatory overhaul despite a climbdown over its schools bill

13 Jul 2022, 10:21

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The Department for Education has appointed a panel of advisers for its planned shakeup of academy regulation, with two-thirds of the group representing trusts.

The review of academy regulation was first announced in the schools white paper earlier this year, promising to deliver reforms that hold trusts to account through more “robust” intervention powers, consistent standards and potentially trust-level inspections.

More recently government has emphasised it will seek to “reduce the burden of regulation”.

The DfE plans to press on with the shakeup despite being forced to ditch much of its initial plans – framed only as a consolidation of existing rules – after a backlash among peers and sector leaders over an alleged “power grab”.

The review was launched in late June, a month later than planned, and has now confirmed the full makeup of its advisory group.

Seven of the 12 advisors are trust CEOs, chairs or senior figures, and another – Leora Cruddas – leads a body representing the academy trust sector, the Confederation of School Trusts.

The trust leaders are:

Sir Martyn Oliver, CEO of Outwood Grange Academies Trust

Gavin Robert, chair of REAch2 Academy Trust

Nikki King, chair of Falcon Education Academies Trust

Mark Vickers, CEO of Olive Academies

Luke Sparkes, deputy CEO of Dixons Academies Trust

Steve Bell, CEO of the Painsley Catholic Academy

Tracey Cleverly, CEO of the Learning Academy Partnership

Five of the 12 have also been awarded honours in the past four years.

Also represented are Amanda Spielman and Dr Jo Saxton, who lead regulators Ofsted and Ofqual respectively, Steve Crocker, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, and Professor Martin Lodge of the London School of Economics.

Baroness Barran will chair the review, which will be “directly informed” by the expert group, according to government. The DfE has also said it “reserves the right” to appoint replacement or additional group members, and twice-monthly meetings until the review finishes in December will be confidential.

A number of working groups have also been promised, including school leaders’ unions NAHT and ASCL, as well as MPs. The review is intended to look at the expectations set for academy trusts, how they are measured and “intervened against”, and how this affects decisions about trusts launching, growing and merging.

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