Schools ‘requiring improvement’ face academisation

Schools rated as “requires improvement” face the prospect of becoming academies, education secretary Nicky Morgan told the BBC this morning.

Previously, if rated as ‘inadequate’, schools could be forced to change leadership and become an academy. The new proposals extend this power to schools rated as ‘requires improvement’.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ms Morgan said: “We want every child to have the best start in life, obviously that means getting it right form primary, right the way through to secondary.”

However, where schools didn’t have the capacity to improve themselves, Ms Morgan said that changing the headteacher “might be one of the answers”.

She added: “But there are some fantastic head teachers up and down this country who are going and offering support to those schools and those heads. That’s what we see. It is about the collaboration, schools working together to support for the best.”

Meanwhile, on BBC Radio 4 minister for school reform Nick Gibb took issue with an education committee report saying it was too soon to conclude whether academies were helping the education system.

He said:  “We do know sponsored academies do improve standards of education in our schools. If you look at the primary sponsored academies, they’ve seen their reading, writing and maths results improve at double the rate seen across all schools.

“Over the last five years there are now a million more children in good and outstanding schools than there were in 2010.”

However, Professor Becky Francis, an adviser to the education select committee queried Mr Gibb’s account.

She said: “The evidence the evidence on whether or not academies have had more success in raising attainment than other equivalent schools is mixed, and hard to pin down.

“Assessment is complicated by the proliferation of different types of academies, and their very different circumstances when they became academies.

“For example, sponsor academies were usually low-attaining schools, often located in areas of disadvantage; for converter academies, it’s the opposite.”

Fellow minister and Lib Dem MP David Laws also criticised the view this morning, stating that a belief all academies were brilliant was “naive and simplistic”.

He told BBC Radio 4: “We have in the department at the moment 600 or 700 ex-academies where we have serious concerns about their performance. That number has doubled over the last year.

“That doesn’t mean many academies aren’t doing a brilliant job, it means we shouldn’t think of academisation as a magic wand solution separate from getting really good people to lead and manage our schools.”

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  1. The Government are quick to assert that they will bring in “Superheads” to fix failing schools. But where are all these “Superheads” hiding at the moment? Are they twiddling their thumbs on Planet Krypton waiting for the call?

    Why do we never hear of “Superdocs” or “Superministers”?

    I seem to recall that Mr Gove praised Superheads, and most of the ones he praised turned out to be fiddling the system in one way or another.

    It seems to me that if you have to invent a fantasy figure to fix your problems, you don’t have much of a policy.

  2. ‘In the meantime the Government should stop exaggerating the success of academies and be cautious about firm conclusions except where the evidence merits it. Academisation is not always successful nor is it the only proven alternative for a struggling school.’

    All-party Education Select Committee, 21 January 2015.

  3. Is Gibb really still spouting that nonsense about sponsored academies improving at a faster rate than all other schools? Even the DfE has admitted the improvement rate of sponsored academies would be higher because the rate is calculated from a lower base. A DfE spokesperson told the Guardian (25 January 2015)that sponsored academies were bound to have a higher improvement rate: they improve faster because they have further to go.

    Perhaps the spokesperson ought to inform the School Reform Minister (an oxymoron, surely?).