When the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held hearings on the £1 billion academies overspend, Chris Wormald (Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education) was asked how many of the academy conversions "were not voluntary". His response was that "I could not tell you off the top of my head" but the Department later submitted a written response, given at the bottom of this post.
Their response (below) is to list just two primaries (Downhills and Nightingale) and three secondaries (Moseley Park, Earlsheaton and Sinfin), suggesting these were the only schools faced with involuntary conversion. Is this correct? Are LSN readers aware of any other forced conversions?
It may be that the answer is technically correct in that it refers only to the schools where "the Secretary of State has intervened with an Academy Order". But the PAC question was "In how many schools has the Department forced conversions or intervened?" Now schools across the country are being told that they must choose to convert or face having a sponsor imposed on them by Academy Order. These are clearly interventions and there are certainly more schools that have felt forced to convert to academy status even though the governors did not wish to do so..
Is the DfE guilty of misleading the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee?
DfE Response to Public Account Committee
Question 128–134 (Chair and Jackie Doyle-Price): In how many schools has the Department forced conversions or intervened?
[DfE response:] The Secretary of State has intervened with an Academy Order and by appointing an Interim Executive Board in two primary schools, Downhills Primary School and Nightingale Primary School, both in Haringey, which have reopened as Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane and Trinity Primary Academy respectively.
The Secretary of State has also intervened in three secondary schools:
— Moseley Park School and Technology College (Wolverhampton) which reopened as the Moseley Park Academy, sponsored by the Central Learning Partnership Trust, on 1 June 2012;
— Earlsheaton Technology College (Kirklees) set to reopen as a sponsored Academy, sponsored by the Schools Partnership Trust, on 1 February 2013; and
— Sinfin School (Derby), where the school’s poor performance, and its decline from Ofsted “satisfactory” rating in 2005 to “special measures” in 2012 raised concerns. The Secretary of State decided in November 2012 to appoint an interim executive board to give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve. No decision on whether the school will convert to academy status has yet been taken.