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The Rise of Academies

THE RISE OF ACADEMIES Why struggling schools are being converted into government-funded trusts, and the impact it will have. There aren't many things introduced by Tony Blair's New Labour government that are embraced and championed by today's Conservatives, but school academies are one. In June it was announced that up to 1,000 failing schools will be turned into academies, but what exactly does this mean for schools, children and parents? First things first: What is an academy? Essentially, it's a school independent from local authorities, which receives its funding from central government and even sponsors, ranging from businesses to universities, faith groups to voluntary groups. As the academies are independent, they do not have to follow the national curriculum. This also frees academies up to set their own school agendas (schools days and holidays) as well as pay and conditions for teachers. Academies were established through the Learning and Skills Act 2000 by the Labour government under Tony Blair. Let's have a look at how the number of academies has risen throughout the years: The amount of academies in England has risen dramatically: 4000 Sponsor Converter 3750 3500 3250 3000 2750 While there were only 203 academies in England in May 2010, there are now 4,676 academies open in England, as of June 2015: 2500 2250 * 2000 * 1750 - An enormous majority of which were introduced throughout the Conservative Lib-Dem Coalition. More than half of all secondary schools in England are now academies. 1500 1250 1000 750 500 250 There are now 4,676 academies in England - as of June 2015. Academies are different to free schools. Here's how: Funding Teaching Staff Central government and sponsors Freedom to set own pay and conditions Freedom to create own curriculum Academies Teachers union Local authorities Strict national curriculum pay and conditions Free School Why are free schools turning into academies? Devised by former Labour Cabinet Minister Andrew Adonis in 2002, the initial idea was that by converting free schools into academies it would raise education standards in deprived areas. The early stages of the scheme showed fantastic improvements, with GCSE results in the new sponsored academies improving twice as fast as in state schools. By 2012, there were 120,000 teachers -a quarter of the frontline school workforce - employed in academies, which is arguably a reason why results improved. "We gave teachers the opportunity to take on more freedom and responsibility and they have grabbed it with both hands," said former Education Secretary Michael Gove three years ago, while former Schools Minister David Laws added: "Academies help to ensure that the professionals - teachers on the frontline - are in charge of schools, not politicians and bureaucrats." Today's government echoes these sentiments, arguing that academies raise standards by placing the power in the hands of head teachers. Academies were created in 2002, and free schools are still turning into academies in 2015. Here's why: x2 GCSE results improved twice as fast as in state schools More freedom and responsibility for teachers Education standards improving in the most deprived areas What are the government's plans for academies? Education secretary Nicky Morgan announced in June 2015 that up to 1,000 schools will become academies by 2020, including every failing school; Ofsted is to rate each school individually, and any deemed inadequate under new laws will be converted. When the plans were unveiled there were 235 schools deemed to be inadequate, and the new laws allow best education experts to fast-track the school for conversion "from the first day we spot failure," said Mrs Morgan. "It will sweep away the bureaucratic and legal loopholes previously exploited by those who put ideological objections above the best interests of children," she continued. It takes 13 months for a school to be converted into an academy, Morgan told the BBC - a "depressing" length of time as "a day spent in a failing school is a day too long when a child's education is at stake." Of course, that doesn't mean that all academies are performing well. Morgan also acknowledges that there are inadequate academies operating today; the hope is that they too, like the schools being converted, will reach a level of best practice. Between 2015 and 2020, the government plans to: Turn 1,000 schools into academies Is this the end for new free schools? Not at all. Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed that he will "not waver" in his commitment to opening 500 new free schools over the next five years. The government has also pledged to deliver two waves of new free schools every year until 2020, creating 270,000 school places and giving parents a broader choice of where they'd like their childrento be educated. "Every family should have access to a great local school and every child should get the very best education - and free schools are a crucial part of that aim," said Mr Cameron. It goes without saying that the quality of these new free schools is of the utmost importance. Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of open free schools are located in areas lacking a sufficient amount school places, and around half of those are located in the bottom 30 per cent of the most deprived communities in the country. Not only will the new schools be deemed 'outstanding' by Ofsted, it's also hoped that they will raise the standards of other free schools near them. Academies are becoming increasingly common, but that doesn't mean we've seen the end of free schools in the UK. 270,000 500 500 new free schools are to open in the next five years Two waves of new free schools planned every year 270,000 new free school places will be created How will the plans impact head teachers? Since Labour's academy scheme was first introduced, more and more local authorities in charge of managing multiple schools have lost their powers, and increased control was placed in the hands of head teachers and the academy trusts behind them. While this responsibility is welcomed, it also creates a few issues, including putting a curriculum, pay and conditions, and term times in place. Another cause of concern is asset management - something that was previously taken care of by the local authority. School asset management has changed a lot over the past ten years - especially since 2010. Large schools have huge amounts of assets, but do not necessarily know what they have. To manage assets correctly, they have to count assets of local authority records, and then put them all into a system. That's why many head teachers and academy trusts have invested in an Academy Asset Manager tool, which adds all assets onto an easy-to-use system, valuing every individual item and even valuing entire rooms. This saves new academies a lot of money. As well as improvements in asset management, schools switching to the academy program also benefit from boosted budgets. First there's the £25,000 they will receive towards conversion costs from the Department for Education, and then there's the possibility to potentially top up budgets by as much as ten per cent. This comes from money previously held back by local authorities for services such as special needs support, on top salaries can also contribute to financial benefits, as academies have the freedom to retain good teachers by offering them more money, yet make savings by reducing costs in other areas. regular per pupil funding. Staff Financial benefits include: 10% £25,000 in school-to-academy conversion costs Budgets topped up by up to ten per cent Ultimately, the switch to academies is a bid to improve the educational standards for children. As Dame Rachel de Souza - CEO of the Inspiration Trust, which runs 12 schools and colleges in East Anglia and uses Parago's solutions for its asset management - told the Telegraph: "We must intervene quickly and decisively so all pupils can experience the benefits of a great academy education and today's bill wilI help sponsors like us to help more young people faster. "As an principal and now CEO of a multi-academy trust I have seen for myself the power of academies to transform young lives and turn around failing and lacklustre schools quickly." Sources: http://www.theguardian.comcommentisfree/2015/jun/03/nicky-morgan-wrong-evidence-academies-bill parago + 44 (0) 1189 508087 Number of Academies Y 2012-13 Jun-14

The Rise of Academies

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Read more about the changes in schools and what to expect in our infographic here.




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