This pamphlet seeks to highlight the key issues emerging as a consequence of mass academisation in the English education system, and outline the RSA's then model for its family of academies.
The academies programme has been controversial, both in its New Labour and Coalition government guises. Removal from local authority maintenance, governance arrangements (including the role of the DfE and Secretary of State for Schools), and the involvement of private sponsors, have all sparked debate. And the coalition government’s early focus on ‘Outstanding’ schools, in contrast to the previous focus on underperforming schools under the New Labour administration, provoked further controversy.
Not only has academisation already become a mainstream feature of the secondary education sector, but the government firmly intends to maintain the momentum, especially in the primary sector. Indeed we are currently experiencing an explosion of change, as individual schools opt for academisation, and existing and new sponsors rapidly in increase the number of schools within their chains and federations, and develop their modes of governance and service support offers.
This report recommends the following:
That Ofsted should continue to inspect ‘Outstanding’ schools (Francis, 2012).
That the government urgently needs to address the challenge of the number of schools ‘stuck’ at ‘satisfactory’ by a programme that balances accountability with support.
And we welcome suggestions that sponsors might also be inspected: quality assurance and accountability for sponsors seems imperative, albeit this may impact the quantity and diversity of sponsors seeking to work with schools.