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Unleashing Greatness: our Academies Commission Report

Blog 2 Comments

  • Education
  • Schools

Commissions can be tricky beasts. Often, in the drive to achieve consensus among all parties, they can drift towards the lowest-risk common denominator. Last minute changes and compromises can skew narratives. And, as with all policy reports, subtle sets of recommendations can be misinterpreted by the media and others. Low-lying ideas can suddenly become top-line recommendations.

After nine months of gestation, we are delighted that the Academies Commission has avoided all of these pitfalls. We congratulate Becky Francis, her team at the Pearson Think Tank, and the three Commissioners Christine Gilbert, Chris Husbands and Brett Widgortz for producing a rigorous, fascinating and highly readable report.

We welcome the Commission's contribution to the academies debate. The recommendations should have significant implications for policy and practice. The RSA, as a partner with a family of academies and with an education programme focussed on social justice, democracy and innovation, will reflect on and respond to the recommendations in due course, and we urge others to do the same. Comment below, or use #acadcomm on Twitter.

Many academies are transforming learning and form a valuable part of the school improvement ecology. However, the Government's frenetic drive towards a fully academised system is not yet justified by evidence, and could actually damage the potential systemic value of a better targeted, more carefully supported approach to the growth of academies. We also hope that this report helps to initiate a more intelligent discussion about autonomy, centralisation, governance and collaboration in the English school system.

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2 Comments

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  • Joe - Just read the short section on 'efficient use of resources'. As the researcher on the Audit Commission report 'valuable lessons' (2009) I note some similar points. Essentially that schools do not have the incentives to be economic and efficient. Given the amount of scrutiny on other areas of public spending, it seems an anomaly, that schools, including academies can be exempt from detailed questions about spending.

  • My overarching concern with Academies is that they are, apparently, exempt from most of the legislation governing all other schools. For instance, there is NO obligation to provide parents with ANY information at all on their child's progress, or attendance, other than an annual 'report' for which there is no guidance on format, content or timing etc. I doubt that parents realise they are voting to be excluded from their child's education when they support new Academies.