69 academies closed for ‘fresh start’, DfE admits
69 academies have closed for a ‘fresh start’ according to Department for Education (DfE) data*.
Closing an academy for a new beginning appears to occur when a struggling academy is transferred to another trust. I wrote about the possible airbrushing of history here.
But this doesn’t appear to apply to all transferred struggling academies. It’s unclear why some are allowed a fresh start and others aren’t. And it's also unclear why a fresh start is even allowed since academies are supposed to be new schools when they first convert. Struggling local authority maintained schools aren't allowed a fresh start - if they're inadequate they are forced to become academies.
In total, 344 academies changed hands between the financial years 2014/15 and 2016/17.
These transfers aren’t always clear on GetInformationAboutSchools, the DfE database of schools. If a transfer occurs after the date of conversion, the records give the impression that the new multi-academy trust (MAT) has run the academy since the original conversion date. This wipes out any mention of a predecessor MAT (or MATs) and makes it difficult to track an academy's history.
In a Freedom of Information (FoI) request about ‘fresh start’ academies, the department told me it would release future details of rebrokerage ‘on an annual basis to incorporate the next financial year’. This follows a long campaign by Schools Week and this site to force the DfE to publish academy transfer costs.
*See spreadsheet for academy transfers downloadable here. Filter column L for details of academies given a new Inique Reference Number (URN). According to the DfE, a change in URN indicates a fresh start.