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What does the future hold for academisation?

Yvonne Spencer, Partner at Veale Wasbrough Vizards, looks at the repercussions of the axed Education for All Bill

Posted by Hannah Oakman | December 01, 2016 | People, policy, politics

In a written ministerial statement published by the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, the Education for All Bill was axed.

This moves away from the government's plans to force underperforming or unviable local authority schools to become academies.

It remains the government's ambition for all schools to benefit from academy status, but the change of emphasis now is to build capacity in the system and to encourage schools to convert voluntarily. This is in stark contrast to the former education secretary's vision, which was to turn every school into an academy by 2022, as set out in Nicky Morgan's White Paper 'Education, Excellence, Everywhere'.

The removal of the 2022 stop-date has not changed the government's vision that all schools should be good schools, although the preference is for schools to become academies within MATs.

The National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, has set out priorities for 2016-2022, which include:

  • Growing capacity within the system with care, so that every child should be able to attend a good school.
  • Expanding existing MATs.
  • Approving and developing new MATs.
  • Embedding the MAT as the best structure for improvement.

The role of the Regional Schools Commissioners (RSC)

A major part of the RSC's role is to monitor performance and secure improvement in the under-performing schools within the region's trusts. RSCs are also required to ensure that the MAT sponsor providers meet local needs by authorising new sponsors and challenging those that exist to raise standards even higher.

When planning your MAT expansion, local need may not mean 'cherry picking' the best schools or academies in your area. Academies and schools wishing to develop or expand a MAT would be well-advised to speak to their RSC to understand the priorities in their area.

Health checks for expansion of MATs

On 15th June this year, the National Schools Commissioner informed the education select committee that he would be introducing a 'health check' for multi-academy trusts that want to take on more schools that would test their history of raising standards. Pilots are currently underway to test the proposed health checks. Once adopted, these will be based on a volunteer scheme and the trusts who volunteer will be those who have a plan to grow.

In terms of how these will work, a CEO, Finance Director and chair of trustees from different trusts will help a RSC decide whether a health check is met and a trust can expand. These will be volunteers from experienced, successful and larger MATs than those wanting to expand. The panel of three will visit a trust and undertake the health check, offering advice and support and report back both to the RSC and the trust.

VWV have considerable experience of working with MATS of all sizes, guiding them through each stage of their development and expansion. For further information, please contact Yvonne Spencer on 020 7665 0870 or Jaime Parkes 0121 227 3703. 

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