Academies - May 2016

The Government is committed to ensuring every child has an excellent education which allows them to achieve their full potential. The reforms of the past 6 years have led to 1.4 million more children being taught in 'good' and 'outstanding' schools. Central to this improvement has been the academy programme.

Since the launch of the White Paper 'Education Excellence Everywhere' stating the Government’s desire that by the end of 2020 all schools will be academies, the Government has listened to feedback from MPs, teachers, school leaders and parents. It is clear from those conversations that the impact academies have in transforming young people’s life chances is widely accepted and that more and more schools are keen to embrace academy status.

As a result of these conversations, the Government has decided, while reaffirming its continued determination to see all schools becoming academies in the next 6 years, that it is not necessary to bring legislation to bring about blanket conversion of all schools to achieve this goal. The Government will continue to require underperforming schools to convert to academy status where they can benefit from the support of a strong sponsor. It will also legislate so that all schools within a local authority area are converted if the local authority can no longer viably support the remaining schools, or where a local authority is consistently failing to meet a minimum performance threshold and is unable to bring about meaningful school improvement.

Academies do not restrict parents and teachers from making decisions - they do the opposite. Over the last five years, the academies and free schools programme has freed thousands of headteachers and school leaders to drive improvement in their 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 per cent 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.

I want a first-class education for all our children and the Government will now focus its efforts on those schools most at risk of failing young people, and encouraging ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools to seize the opportunities of conversion, which will ensure the continued growth of the academy programme, empowering frontline heads and school leads, and transforming even more children’s education.