Exclusive: Schools tsar sets out plan to bring academies to heel

Sir David Carter will use his new role to introduce a new hierarchical system for academies

The government’s new schools tsar has revealed his blueprint for bringing England’s 5,000 academies and free schools to heel.

In his first interview since becoming national schools commissioner, Sir David Carter told TES of plans to identify the 100 weakest academies in the country and to introduce a new hierarchical system of academy chains.

He was speaking in the week that the government’s Education and Adoption Bill completed its passage through Parliament, paving the way for many more struggling schools to be turned into academies.

Academy expansion and rigour

Under Sir David’s plan, academy chains or multi-academy trusts (MATs) will be organised into four distinct levels based on the number of schools under their control. They will have undergo new assessments before being allowed to expand to reach the next tier.

The biggest chains will be directly accountable to Sir David and known as “system leader trusts”.

Sir David said that he wants to bring some “rigour” into the expansion of academies. “I am really keen to think about what growth and expansion means in the system,” he told TES.

But Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said: “The fact that Sir David is targeting 100 academies for improvement is a clear indication that academy status does not in itself improve education, and in many cases achieves the opposite effect.”

This is an edited article from the 26 February edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. See here for more from our exclusive interview with Sir David Carter and here for more on the dangers of MAT expansion. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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