‘We don’t want academies…whatever they are,’ parents say

Almost two-thirds of parents disagree with the government’s drive to turn all schools into academies, but the majority also have no idea what an academy actually does, a new poll shows.

A survey of 1,000 UK parents – the majority of whom did not have a child at an academy – found that 61 per cent do not want all schools to become academies.

When asked whether they would be happy for their children to attend one, only a third – 34 per cent – said they would. A further 39 per cent said that their answer would depend on the specific academy.

And almost one in five parents – 17 per cent – said that they would not be happy for their children to attend an academy.

This was in part because of concerns about the academy conversion process. Parents were worried that newly converted academies might struggle to manage thier administration and finances.

But parents’ wariness of academies is, it seems, partly a fear of the unknown. Only 42 per cent of parents questioned actually understood what an academy was. And 58 per cent said that they did not understand what role was filled by an academy.

Howard Jackson, founder of software firm HCSS Education, which conducted the research, said that the government needed a strategy to address parental ignorance. “This is important, as parents are given the opportunity to put forward their opinions before a school decides to become an academy,” he said.

“It’s vital that they are fully briefed about the conversion process, in order to make an informed decision.”

In response to the findings, the Department for Education said that converter academies performed 7.2 percentage points above the national GCSE average in 2015.

“Parents should be reassured that the academies programme is giving teachers the freedom to run schools in the way they know best, raising standards and resulting in more children being given the chance to fulfil their potential,” he said.

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