Academies Commission

Sarah's picture
by Sarah
Such is the concern about the absence of any proper evaluation of the implications of wholesale academisation of our education system that a Commission has been established to do just that

'The commission will examine the model and incipient outcomes of academisation from a school improvement perspective, focusing on issues of accountability, governance, due diligence, and outcomes for pupils.
It will highlight emerging trends, risks, and related questions, concentrating on public interest.
It will also draw on international examples of similar systems and cases, to inform and compare analyses.
It will not rehearse debates about the decision to develop the academies programme, but will focus on the consequences of this programme in terms of outcomes for children and young people and for the education system as a whole.
Particular attention will be given to the key issues of
a) accountability including processes via which schools are held accountable; the role of the sponsor; commissioning of services; governance; operation of local markets; due diligence (e.g. what happens when performance worsens or fails to improve under a particular sponsor or chain?)
b) educational outcomes and how to lever school improvement in an academised system, given school autonomy'


There will be a call for evidence soon in case anyone is interested in submitting their observations.

Particularly of interest, in the light of 8 Academies being acknowledged to be failing, is where proper scrutiny (and support) will come from in such a fragmented system.
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Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 08:13

We are particularly interested in transparency about academy finances. Would be very interested to hear from parents in either sponsored or converter academies about whether they are able to see their school's budgets?

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 09:06

I welcome a Commission into converter academies. However, I do have concerns about the independence of the Commission's sponsors. RSA wishes to establish a chain of schools and has set up a charity, RSA Academies (RSAA) to do the work.

RSA acknowledge that there has been "some questioning whether the Commission is truly independent given the funding from academy sponsors and suppliers" and said, "...we feel that sponsor involvement actually lends credibility to the Commission. But the proof will be in the proverbial pie – we envisage the Commission report to provide a balanced and rigorous analysis of the strengths, weaknesses and potential challenges and opportunities of an academised system."

It's to RSA's credit that it acknowledges possible bias. However, I feel that a Commission into academies would be more credible if it were undertaken by a disinterested third party such as the National Audit Office.

Sarah's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 10:34

I agree with you Janet. There is a clear potential conflict of interest. This is why it will be so important for as many people as possible to respond to the call for evidence. I assume that it will all be published.

I'm very interested to know how the commission came about and whether it is merely a means of flushing out the risks of full academisation in a controlled manner so that the government can use it to show that a full risk assessment has been carried out when they finally decide the tipping point has been reached and they will then forcibly convert the rest. What hand, if any, has the government had in establishing it? I'm suspicious of it - but see it as an opportunity to at least have a public debate about the issues.

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