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Academisation of Schools

April 19, 2016

Many residents have written to Mark in recent days about regarding the academisation of schools. The following response sets out Mark’s views:

Thank you for your email regarding your thoughts on the academisation of schools. I must confess that I do not share your concerns as there are some fantastic examples of academies already at work here in my constituency, such as Pimlico Academy which Ofsted classifies as ‘outstanding’, and The Grey Coat Hospital School.

The Education Secretary’s White Paper ‘Education Excellence Everywhere’ sets out to raise educational attainment, ensure that no part of the country is left behind and crucially, deliver fair funding for all schools. It is the Government’s ambition that by the end of 2020, all schools have the opportunity to become academies or are in the process of becoming academies. By the end of 2022, local authorities will no longer have the legal responsibility to manage schools but will still retain important responsibilities for admissions planning, places and commissioning special needs provisions. The Department has also made clear that schools will be free to continue to buy services from the local authority, but they will no longer have to do so, allowing them greater choice to ensure their pupils’ needs are met.

Over the last five years, the academies and free schools programmes have freed thousands of head teachers and leaders to drive improvement in their own schools and across the system. Autonomy and accountability come together in academy trusts, where leaders have more control over budgets and teachers’ pay, can take decisions they believe will improve standards and are held to account for the outcomes.

2015 results show that primary sponsored academies open for two years have improved their results, on average, by 10 percentage points since opening, more than double the rate of improvement in local authority maintained schools over the same period. 2015 GCSE results show that secondary converter academies are performing 7.2 percentage points above the national average, with 64.3 per cent of pupils achieving five or more good GCSEs, including English and Maths.

A system in which all state-funded schools are academies will deliver better results for all children through empowering great teachers and leaders with better leadership structures. The system will prioritise responsiveness and clear accountability over an arbitrary requirement for all schools in a local area to be run by the same body, regardless of its effectiveness. There will also be a new role for local authorities, who will move away from maintaining schools and focus on championing pupils and parents. This approach offers head teachers more agility and flexibility on how they run their schools and parents and stakeholders more say.

Academies are also better for parents as rigorous accountability for performance will mean parents have a greater choice of good schools and have assurance that their children are getting the best education possible in order for them to fulfil their potential.

In addition to the academisation of schools, the Government has recently launched the first stage of a two stage consultation process to determine how funding reform will take place from 2017, and to ensure that a new national formula, based on the needs of schools and the pupils that they serve, rather than where they happen to be in the country, will work.

Nevertheless, I shall write to Nicky Morgan MP to raise these concerns at the highest level of government. I shall, of course, be back in touch as soon as I receive her response.

Thank you once again for taking the time and trouble to write to me.