Regional schools commissioner questions benefits of academy conversion for stand-alone academies

Tim Coulson, regional schools commissioner for the East Of England and North East London. Picture:

Tim Coulson, regional schools commissioner for the East Of England and North East London. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

The man appointed to oversee academies in our region has questioned whether conversion has contributed to raising standards in schools that go it alone.

Since 2010, the government has encouraged high-performing schools to break away from the local authority, and become independent, standalone academies.

Tim Coulson, who became regional schools commissioner for the East of England and North-East London last July, raised his concerns in a report about his work up to February.

The document, obtained by the EDP's sister paper the Ely Standard, said: 'From last term's visit to 'standalone' academies, it is not always clear how becoming an academy has contributed to raising standards - in particular, some governing bodies are not providing the strong strategic body to direct an academy's future destiny, and unlike a multi-academy trust, they do not have any comparisons of the expectation of performance between schools they can make.'

It comes as growing numbers of standalone academies in Norfolk join wider organisations, or become academy sponsors themselves.

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Cromer Academy and Lynn Grove Academy have joined multi-academy trusts, and Acle Academy is seeking to do so, while Springwood, Sheringham and Reepham high schools are now academy sponsors.

The report also said Mr Coulson had identified 'about a third of academies' where inspections or 2014 results 'raise questions about a school's performance', although it added the majority of visits to these schools were 'very reassuring'.

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The report also said too many academies only look to intervene with pupils taking their GCSEs, saying this was too late, and added to the stress of teachers' workloads.

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