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New report highlights parental concern about academies

The study finds that nearly half of parents think academies care more about profit than child development

Posted by Julian Owen | September 18, 2019 | People, policy, politics

The number of state-run English schools holding academy status has more than doubled in five years, from 3,827 in 2014 to 8,398 in 2019. 

In 2014, academies represented 16% of all English schools; today, it’s 35%. 

In May of this year, parents, teachers and pupils in East Sussex made headlines when they struck against the trend and successfully campaigned against two local primary schools being turned into academies. 

According to new research commissioned by Oxford Home Schooling, they are not alone. It found that 39% of parents with school-age children think the government should scrap the academy system, with the figure rising to 43% among parents of children already attending academies. 

34% stated that they’d remove their children from school if it planned to convert. 

Schools and academy leaders would be wise to consult with parents to address their doubts about the system before forcing institutions to change their identity

751 parents of children aged 5-16 took part in the study, conducted by the Leadership Factor in August. 

The report found that British parents’ main five concerns about the academy system are: 

 - Academies represent a move towards the privatisation of education - 53%

 - Academies can be selective - 53%

 - Academies are motivated by the vision of the CEO - 51%

 - Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum - 48%

 - Academies are unaccountable for their decisions and actions - 47% 

The research also asserts that, while more than half (56%) of academy pupils’ parents claim that schools benefit from being part of a multi-academy trust (MAT), more than a third (34%) didn’t know whether their own child’s institution was part of a MAT. 

“While there are a number of benefits to the initiative, like schools being able to spend funding in ways that are best for their community, there is clearly a large and growing proportion of parents that are against the idea,” said Dr Nick Smith, principal at Oxford Home Schooling. 

“Our research has highlighted how strongly people feel about the topic. With this in mind, schools and academy leaders would be wise to consult with parents to address their doubts about the system before forcing institutions to change their identity.”

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