Over 60 schools branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted 17 months ago have still not been taken over by an academy trust, despite new laws requiring the government to make it happen.
Ofsted’s annual report reveals that of 170 local authority-maintained schools that were languishing at the lowest rating in April last year, when new rules around academy conversion came into force, 65 of which have still not converted to academy status.
It followed a campaign by education secretary Nicky Morgan, who said during an interview in 2015 that one day spent in a failing school by a pupil was “a day too long“. She subsequently introduced the new laws compelling ‘inadequate’ schools to become academies which she said would change the length of time it took to turn around a school’s fortunes.
According to Ofsted’s report, in the last nine months, 113 maintained schools also became eligible for an academy order due to their low performance but are still open in their original guise. Twenty-two do not have any date slated for conversion.
Over the past year, 1,120 schools converted to academy status and the number of multi-academy trusts registered to take over schools increased from 800 to around 1,000.
However, the inability to find sponsors for some persistently failing schools is becoming a source of contention for the government.
Dubbed “schools no one wants” by a parliamentary education committee earlier this year, trusts are now receiving around £7 million in additional funds as an incentive to take over such challenging schools.
In some cases, issues such as repayments to councils for school buildings created under private financial incentives (PFI) are holding up the changes. In Newham, several schools have been campaigning to become academies, but are unable to agree on a settlement for the repayments.
Ofsted says it is now working with regional schools commissioners to “understand when” the schools are likely to become academies and consider whether its inspectors ought to “carry out monitoring visits in the meantime”.
More on Ofsted’s annual report…