Government continues judging RSCs on academy conversion rate – despite conflict of interest concerns

The government continued judging regional schools commissioners (RSCs) on how many schools they converted into academies last year despite fears about a conflict of interest, a key report has revealed.

The Department for Education’s academies annual report, published today, shows that RSCs were judged on the percentage of schools in their areas which were academies between September last year and August this year.

It comes despite concerns the requirement caused conflicts of interest, leading to claims by the government last December the requirement would be removed from the commissioners’ key performance indicators (KPIs).

Baroness Evans, the former head of the New Schools Network and now leader of the House of Lords, told peers last year that a review of the KPIs would lead to the removal of the requirement.

She said the government had recognised it was important that RSCs used their “judgment” and that their decision-making was “not affected by other factors”.

RSCs also continued to be judged on the percentage of eligible schools issued with academy orders, number of academies above floor standards and the percentage of approved sponsors active in a particular region, among other things.

The report also shows that the government banned 14 academy trusts from taking on new schools over the course of just one year.

According to the report, the growth of 14 sponsors were ‘paused’ between August 2014 and July 2015, but the names of the trusts were not listed.

The government also said that 29 sponsored academies were transferred to new sponsors following concerns about the pace of improvement.

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