Combating Disadvantage and the Academies Programme

  • We welcome the priority given by government to the role of schools in building social cohesion and closing the attainment gap between the most and least advantaged.
  • Challenging disadvantage depends on schools working together and with other agencies, as well as on the focused efforts of individual schools.
  • Funding agreements should be public and open for local consultation before they are signed.
  • As the numbers of academies grow, it would be prudent to establish some sort of Nolan test or national register for potential sponsors. The process by which academies are established needs to be transparent so that the needs of all children can be addressed and to establish consistency with government’s expressed aspiration to involve local communities in decisions which affect them.
  • Local authorities must have the responsibility to analyse robustly the performance data of all schools, including academies and the authority to take action on coasting and declining schools however they are funded. The annual schools report at local authority level should hold all providers to account.
  • There is some evidence that the early success of academies is associated as much with the management of admissions, restrictive contracts with parents and an assertive approach to exclusions as with fresh approaches to curriculum and pedagogy. Successful leadership is not dependent on particular governance models.
  • There is a powerful case for a charter which governs the behaviour of all schools – including academies – fairly and equally in order to draw all schools into a common framework which will deliver government’s aspirations for children

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