As the Education and Adoption Bill 2015-2016 (the Bill) passes its next stage through Parliament, the Education Team at berg reviews ‘academisation’ since the Academies Act 2010 came into force.
What will the Bill do?
Sponsored by Rt Hon Nicky Morgan and Lord Nash, the Bill includes making provision for schools, in particular about their conversion into academies and about intervention powers. Essentially, those schools judged inadequate by Ofsted will be converted into academies and those schools deemed as “coasting” schools (based on failing to hit targets and achievements over a 3-year period) will be eligible for intervention.
The Bill is being introduced against a political backdrop for the conservative government, which is striving towards ‘local accountability’ and a ‘school-led’ approach in its mission for every school to have the opportunity to become an academy.
According to the House of Commons (Briefing Paper, number 6233, 19 October 2015), since the first academy conversion in 2010, 3,420 schools have converted. In relative terms, a greater number of secondary schools (41% of maintained secondary schools) to primary schools (11% of maintained primary schools) have converted. However, in the last two years 80% of conversions have occurred in primary schools.
Further, the spread of conversions across England varies between counties, with Leicestershire experiencing the most conversions in maintained primary and secondary schools and Rutland with the lowest. There are also inconsistencies in the type of schools converting, with foundation schools being the highest and the lowest rate of conversion is in community schools.
A recent survey carried out by HCSS Education, a software firm, found that almost two-thirds of parents disagree with converting schools into academies but the majority are ignorant about how an academy functions. Howard Jackson, founder of HCSS, states parents’ engagement was important ‘as parents are given the opportunity to put forward their opinions before a school decides to become an academy’ (featured in TES online on 14 January 2016).
The government, however, argues academies drive up standards by putting more power in the hands of head teachers and cutting bureaucracy. It says they have been shown to improve twice as fast as other state schools.
Whether you’re in agreement with the government’s approach to academy conversion or against it, it is universally agreed that the most important aim is to ensure that every child is provided with the best possible education.
Progress of the Bill
In terms of the current progress of the Bill, a thorough examination of the Bill took place during the final day of the reporting stage on 16 December 2015, during which several amendments were made. The next stage will be a third reading of the Bill, which is the final chance to make amendments. This stage is however yet to be scheduled.
Watch this space for updates on the Bill and academy conversion generally.
For more information about any of the above or for practical commercial advice, please contact Michelle Gray or Kim Freeman-Smith of the berg Education team on 0161 833 9211 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.)