500 academies have contributed to a research report published jointly by The Schools Network and Reform, which highlights the trend towards – and benefits of – autonomy in the English education system.

It’s worth remembering that most of the older sponsored academies, like ours, replaced schools that had struggled for success for years.  What this report shows is that most of the new converter academies changed status for the additional cash, as well as for the autonomy that comes with it.  It’s also true that most academies also work in partnership with other schools, contrary to popular belief.  The point being that you can choose who to work with, rather than it being compulsory.  This is hardly surprising, since 3000+ independent, autonomous, self-serving secondary schools would never be the answer to wholesale system improvement in England.

The report:  Plan A+: Unleashing the potential of academies Plan A+

Press release from the Schools Network to accompany report:  Academies survey press release

The key points from the report are:

  • 95% of academies have improved or maintained their relationships with local schools – and 85% of converting academies said their relations with their local authority had been maintained or improved since they became an academy
  • 78% of converting academies cited the additional money that could be freed by efficiency savings as a factor in their conversion.
  • Educational autonomy was mentioned by 73 per cent of schools as a reason for becoming an academy, while 71 per cent mentioned the freedom to buy local authority support services from elsewhere
  • 62% have changed their curriculum or plan to do so.  The most common changes are to the provision of IT
  • 24% have decided to change the school day
  • 36% have changed the school year or have plans to do so
  • 65 per cent have no plans to change terms and conditions of staff.  Only 12% have done so
  • 56|% said their relations with their local authority are good or very goo
  • Overall the survey found 84% of heads would recommend academy status to another school

All the sponsored academy heads that I work with are passionate about improving provision for all students.  Most of them are engaged in community regeneration  programmes, working flat out to ensure that young people get the sort of chances that many of their parents didn’t.