Over the past couple of days a number of people have commented to me about the announcement in the budget that all schools are to become Academies. I think they were surprised when I was underwhelmed. The announcement that all schools will be Academies by 2020, or at least have formal plans to do so 2022 is the natural progression of the Academy programme. This is something that is happening but perhaps suggests that politicians are just a little impatient about the speed at which it is happening.
The Education and Adoption Bill has passed through parliament and is due to receive Royal Assent in spring, which includes provisions to increase the speed by which schools become Academies. This Bill includes a requirement on Local Authorities to facilitate Academy conversions for underperforming schools. The Bill also provides powers for the Secretary of State to intervene in coasting or failing academies, as well as maintained schools.
It was suggested during the budget announcement that there will be further legislation requiring all schools to become Academies. Presumably the reference to “all schools” means those schools currently within the control of the Local Authority. However, there doesn’t seem to be any detail about what will happen with the existing foundation and trust schools. We will have to wait and see the details of the legislation.
The process of schools becoming Academies is not going to happen overnight. All applications to become an Academy or Multi Academy Trust are now approved by Regional Schools Commissioners before the Department of Education add their approval. Therefore the process has become more bureaucratic than the first wave of conversions following the Academies Act 2010. The preference now is for schools to join or form Multi Academy Trusts rather than becoming standalone academies. It takes time for schools to work out who they want to club together with and a leap of faith to take the next step in formalising that relationship as a Multi Academy Trust. This is all in addition to schools actually getting on with the day to day running of a school.
Our experience from working on over 170 Academy conversions is that this is a process best not rushed. When schools decide they are ready to take the next step on their Academy journey we are here to support and facilitate that process. Please get in contact the team on 0113 306 000 if you would like to discuss your school’s options further.