Government must convert ’15 academies a month’ report says

Changes brought in under the Education and Adoption Act will put government under ‘serious pressure’ according to a think tank.

The government will be forced to convert around 15 underperforming schools a month into academies after new laws were introduced last week, new research suggests.

According to a study by the independent thinktank CentreForum, the changes brought in by the Education and Adoption Act will place the Department for Education and its Regional School Commissioners under “serious pressure”.

The legislation means any school to be judged “inadequate” by Ofsted will automatically be converted into an academy.

The research suggests that around 15 schools a month will be rated as inadequate, raising concerns as to whether the RSCs will be able to find enough sponsors to take over the failing schools.

CentreForum added that the pressure is only likely to increase on the government once the new “coasting” measure is introduced at the start of the school year. Any school deemed to be coasting under the rules could also be handed an academy order unless it can show it is taking necessary steps to improve.

Much of the debate over academisation has shifted following chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that every school will be in the process of becoming an academy by 2022, but the thinktank warns that the DfE has more immediate concerns.

Jon Andrews, director of education data and statistics, said: “We must remember the Education and Adoption Act has huge implications. The Secretary of State now has a specific duty to issue an academy order to any school deemed by Ofsted to be inadequate. Over the next year, action will also be required in relation to schools the government considers to be ‘coasting’.

“The impetus for academisation these new powers create mean the department of education must ensure there are enough high performing sponsors ready to turn around difficult and failing schools while at the same time tackling underperformance in academies that are already open.”

The thinktank also called for greater guidance from the government as to what constitutes a well-performing multi-academy trust.

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