White paper: Most ‘coasting’ schools already academies

DfE consults on forcing schools 'not making necessary improvements' to become academies or join a new trust

DfE consults on forcing schools 'not making necessary improvements' to become academies or join a new trust

Two-thirds of “coasting” schools earmarked for potential government intervention from September are already academies, new analysis shows.

On Monday, the Department for Education launched a consultation to force schools “not making necessary improvements” into becoming academies or joining a new trust.

Any school rated ‘requires improvement’ at its most recent Ofsted inspection and with a previous less than ‘good’ rating will be eligible for intervention.

Analysis of Ofsted’s February management information data found 869 schools with successive less than ‘good’ ratings that have been inspected at least once under their current sponsor or local authority.

Of these, 65 per cent (564) are academies.

However, the government will initially focus on “coasting” schools in the 55 education improvement areas, and those with a “long-term history of underperformance”.

These are described as schools with five consecutive less than ‘good’ Ofsted judgments.

The analysis from Education Datalab found about 210 schools in this category – 81 per cent (170) of them academies.

But the consultation states intervention will not be “automatic”. Regional directors – formerly regional school commissioners – will decide on a case-by-case basis if action is required.

The government said 4.2 per cent of state funded schools – which teach “over 400,000 pupils” – have successive less than ‘good’ grades, rising to 5.7 per cent in education improvement areas.

Regional directors (RDs) will “not normally intervene” before an academy has received a full inspection under its current trust.

‘Inspection histories’ taken into account in academies drive

However, the consultation says “inspection histories” of academies will be taken into account – meaning the school’s previous grades under the local authority or old trust will be counted.

The consultation adds: “This will allow RDs to hold academy trusts to account for improving their academies rapidly once they have converted or transferred.”

Schools which have fewer than five less than ‘good’ judgments will only be eligible for intervention if their most recent inspection is after May last year.

It means the proportion of academies eligible for intervention may change by September.

The DfE expects the “vast majority” of maintained schools and standalone academies “will be transferred to a MAT”.

But “coasting” academies already part of a MAT “may” be transferred to another trust only where the RD is “not confident that the current MAT is likely to secure necessary improvements”.

“Coasting” schools are currently defined by pupil performance and progress, but the DfE will “revoke these regulations” in favour of reference to consecutive Ofsted judgments.

The consultation closes on May 23.

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