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Education Select Committee launches inquiry into school academy programme

Concerns over performance and accountability of academy schools persists as inquiry announced

Photo of Victorian school building

11 November 2013

The Education Select Committee has announced that it is launching an inquiry into some aspects of the school academies programme. The announcement comes at the same time as 17 academies are warned about ‘unacceptable’ standards.

Specialist education lawyer and Leigh Day partner Alison Millar welcomes news of the inquiry into the academies programme.  She says:

“There are persistent concerns about the performance and accountability of academy schools.  Simply transferring schools into the private sector will not automatically address the question of underperformance in some schools.”

Academy schools inquiry

The Education Committee has invited written submissions on a number of points, to be received by Thursday 19 December:

  • The effectiveness of academisation in narrowing the gap for disadvantaged children, and what further steps should be taken within the academies system to bring about a transformational impact on student outcomes;
  • The process for approving, compelling and establishing academies and free schools, including working with sponsors;
  • The role of the Secretary of State in intervening in and supporting failing academies, and how this role will work as the programme expands;
  • The functions and responsibilities in relation to academies and free schools of local authorities and other organisations operating between the Secretary of State and individual schools; what these functions and responsibilities should be; and what gaps there are in support for schools at this level;
  • What role academy chains play or should play in the new school landscape; how accountable they are; and what issues they raise with regard to governance arrangements; 
  • The appropriateness of academy status for primary schools and what special factors apply;  and what evidence there is that academy status can bring value for money either for individual primary schools or for the system as a whole;
  • What alternatives to sponsored academy status should be offered to failing primary schools.

The Department for Education has recently written to more than 30 academies over concerns about about their performance, warning them to improve or to face intervention, including being put under new management. One sponsor, Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) runs seven of the academies to receive letters while a number of others are run by different Church of England dioceses.
 

If you would like to speak to a member of the education team at Leigh Day about the school academy programme or special education needs please contact 020 7650 1200 for more information.



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