Primary sector could see the next big take-up of academies

Education think-tank, Policy Exchange, has released a report arguing that more primary schools should become academies to improve falling standards.

In its ‘Primary Focus’ report, the organisation revealed that as many as one in five primary schools (20 per cent) could fall below the government’s tough new minimum standards in reading and writing and maths in 2016.

These new challenging standards, combined with an ever increasing number of head teachers retiring, local authority spending cuts and the introduction of a new national curriculum and assessment systems, could leave thousands of primary schools in crisis, warns the report.

Policy Exchange argues in the document that the most effective way to ensure primary teachers and schools have the capability to cope with the new challenges, would be to convert them all into academies, and then require each school to join an academy ‘chain’ by 2020.

They have come to this conclusion based upon the evidence in the successful secondary sector where 56 per cent of all schools are now academes, compared to just 11 per cent in the primary sector.

The report adds that all Local Authorities should be encouraged to set up and run their own chains to provide alternatives to privately run chains in their area and suggests that all remaining local authority secondary schools should also become Academies during the same period, as should special schools.

The report concludes by outlining proposals that would allow schools to switch from one chain to another, based on whether or not they already had a good or outstanding Ofsted rating. Therefore allowing more competition and fluidity in the market, and preventing any academy chain building a local monopoly, which could have a negative impact on education.

Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange said: “This report’s conclusion is that bringing schools together in Academy chains is what is needed.

“Academy status is not some sort of panacea which will automatically lead to improvements. However, it is clear that the creation of groups of schools collaborating together and sharing best practice is what is needed, and this report sets out a framework for how this can be maximised.”

Nicklin’ academies experts can provide comprehensive advice to support schools through conversion and beyond, with advice on issues including maximising financial efficiency to support the key priority of achieving educational excellence.

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Posted in Academies News.