The Department for Education has recently announced that more than 400 struggling primary schools were paired up with academy sponsors in 2013 – exceeding a pledge made a year ago.
In 2012, 200 of the weakest primary schools became sponsored academies – after which the government promised to go even further in tackling underperformance, promising to broker sponsorship of 400 further failing primaries in 2013.
As a result, 645 underperforming primary schools are now being guided by academy sponsors under the current government – their previous poor performance being tackled and standards raised.
In May 2010 there were 203 sponsored academies – none of them primary schools. There are now more than 3,500 academies in total.
The primary school tables, published at the end of 2013, showed that sponsored academies had improved their performance by 3 per cent, against an improvement across all schools of 1 per cent.
Examples of some of the primary schools which became sponsored academies in 2012 when they were among the poorest in the country, but which are now thriving, include:
- Ryecroft Primary Academy in Bradford (sponsored by Northern Education Trust since September 2012) – 74 per cent of pupils achieved the expected level in the 3 Rs in 2013, up 48 per cent
- Race Leys Junior School in Bedworth, Warwickshire (sponsored by Griffin Trust since September 2012) – where almost a third of pupils exceeded the expected level in the 3 Rs
- Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane in Haringey, London (sponsored by the Harris Federation since September 2012) – 75 per cent of 6-year-olds this year passed the phonics check, up from 36 per cent in 2012, while in results for 11-year-olds, 78 per cent achieved the expected level in reading (up from 67 per cent) and 81 per cent managed that in maths (up from 69 per cent)
- Garden City Academy in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire (sponsored by Reach 2 since September 2012) – where 27 per cent of children exceeded the expected level in the 3 Rs
A DfE spokesman said: “The best way to turn around the stubborn underperformance that exists in some schools is to bring in a sponsor. These sponsors bring with them experience, strong leadership, know-how – and a track record of success.
“It is vital we continue to raise standards so all children leave primary school with a thorough grounding in reading, writing and maths so they can thrive at secondary school.”
The sponsored academy programme is in addition to the hundreds of schools which can convert to academy status (known as converter academies). The academy programme was previously focused only on underperforming secondary schools. This government is now using academies to tackle weak primary schools as well. It has also allowed schools to take advantage of the freedoms and autonomy on offer by converting to academy status.
For schools that do decide to seek academy status, our experts at Nicklin can provide advice and assistance throughout the process, along with ongoing financial, tax and business advisory support post-conversion. For more information, please contact us.