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JJ’s synthesis of interesting extracts

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1 JJ’s synthesis of interesting extracts
‘Unleashing Greatness’ Getting The Best From An Academised System The Report of the Academies Commission January 2013 JJ’s synthesis of interesting extracts

2 Overview & Recommendations
‘There have been some stunning successes among individual sponsored academies and academy chains and these have raised expectations of what can be achieved even in the most deprived areas. But it is increasingly clear that academy status alone is not a panacea for improvement’ National Audit Office 2012 indicates that Ofsted has judged almost half of all sponsored academies inadequate or satisfactory/requiring improvement. International evidence of similar systems seems to point a parallel picture

3 National Audit Office Imperatives for the Future re. Academies
Forensic focus on teaching and its impact on pupils’ learning so that the words academisation and improvement become inextricably and demonstrably linked Ensure that an increasingly academised system is equally accessible to children and young people from all backgrounds Academies demonstrate their moral purpose by providing greater accountability to pupils, parents and other stakeholders. The role of governors is more important in an academised system and their scrutiny and challenge should ensure effective accountability

4 Recommendation Themes
Levers for and barriers to school improvement within a totally academised system and securing achievement for ALL pupils within it (10) Academies’ use of their freedoms (3) Implications for Admissions (4) The impact of diversification and mass academisation on existing academies and schools – local provision (4) Governance, accountability and due diligence (5:Governing Bodies + 8:Central Government)

5 Different Sorts Of Academies
2456 Open Academies (536 11/2012) Enforced Sponsor Academies Sponsored Academies (Mark I- Labour Govt. in areas of social challenge sponsored by Philanthropists/Business) Sponsored Academies (Mark II- additional sponsors from Universities/Charities with start up funding commitment abolished) Converter Academies (Mark III – Schools Performing Well – Ofsted Grades 1 or 2) Chains of Academies ( % of all academies – in 11/2012) Multi-Academy Trusts (612) Umbrella Trusts (78) – typically Faith schools) Free Schools Average size of a chain is 3.2 schools. Only 9 Chains included 10+ academies. Some academies are in more than one chain e.g.. in a collaborative partnership with one but formally part of a MAT with others Clearest improvement comes from small group of sponsored academies open at least 5 years Rationale for becoming a Sponsored Academy remains Transformational Change Still wider group of ‘collaborative partnerships ‘exists nationally and coexist within academy groupings

6 Recommendations for School Improvement
Build a more powerful national vision for change Strengthen professional ownership of accountability Make school review in academies more open and inclusive of parents and the local community Capture the power of collaboration for system change Support schools in taking responsibility for whole system improvement Use Ofsted to support a school-led collaborative approach to systemic improvement

7 2012 HMCI Report Academies in Chains perform better than stand alone Sponsored Academies in terms of Ofsted judgements (25% cf. 85). Commission was unconvinced that some Chains could meet their responsibilities as they seemed to lack an agreed approach to school improvement and strategies for improving teaching and learning across their group. NLES, LLES, NLGs, SLEs all report reciprocal benefits for their own schools of their system work. Teaching Schools(500 by 2014/15) are a positive force for collaborative work across autonomous ad independent schools using their alliances for CPD and supporting school facing challenges.

8 Mass academisation in the primary sector is by no means a ‘done deal’
864 in 11/2012 (5% of all primary schools) Some primary schools emphasise the LA role as ‘backstop’ and facilitator of collaboration Some primary schools see disadvantages as outweighing advantages Small financial incentive as one off grant for primary schools to cluster into academy groupings Commission recommends (to LAs and Government) that primaries be encouraged to collaborate as ‘federations’ without immediate change to academies (for economies of scale and improvement) Possible for LAs to be more demanding than DfE concerning acceptable standards and improvement beyond the floor standards Important to remember that what works for secondary SI is not necessarily same as in primary and that economies of scale are more difficult in primary with governance a particular challenge

9 Whole System Improvement
The Commission found evidence of transformational change in some academies but evidence of substantial impact at system level was far less strong. If change is to take place as quickly as needed schools themselves must establish, drive and take responsibility for a self improving school system …. ensuring that all schools have access to the school to school support (s2ss) they need but also that schools collaborate professionally to improve and create new practice. JPD – Joint Practice Development - is the term that captures this essential form of professional development

10 LAs and School Improvement
LAs responding to the more autonomous system in a range of ways The Commission recommends that LAs should articulate concerns about the quality of a school and through annually producing a report on the quality of education in their area which is presented to the DfE and available publicly. The Commission does not indicate how LAs would be enabled to discover any concerns in the first place or how they could gather field knowledge about schools where they had no legitimacy. LAs are not any longer automatic providers of school improvement however they can support schools to take greater ownership and responsibility themselves

11 School Improvement - Conclusions
The academies Programme has led to some revitalisation of the school system. However, despite significant resources focussed on a minority of schools they have not as a group performed markedly better than similar schools. Academisation alone does not guarantee improvement. This with greatest success have used their status to strengthen their approach to ambitious school improvement. At the heart of the plan for a self sustaining improving system needs to be leaders and teachers extending their moral purpose and professional accountability to schools beyond their own. Only then will we see a new breed of Mark IV Academies with the potential for transformation

12 Academies and Use of Freedoms
The increased use of freedoms is not as substantial as DfE suggest But many academy leaders do feel a sense of increased liberation – a sense of grown up responsibility and ‘permission to innovate’. These freedoms are not necessarily linked to being an academy legally but are perceived to be linked with the change of status so is it ‘freedom from...’(LAs?) as much as ‘freedom to…’? The need to innovate is not universally shared between all academies. School already have considerable freedoms cf other school systems internationally Academy leader are themselves concerned about the validity of some of the freedoms e.g.. not following nutritional guidelines, employing unqualified staff etc., so are cautious of innovation in areas that could attract media attention, subject them to public debate or are unproved. Converter Academy leaders may not have the (entrepreneurial) skills set to use academy freedoms fully and Academy Sponsors may lack the creativity/will to use them Academies are refraining from using freedoms that do not (yet) have the broad consensus/ support of the education system e.g.. Pay & Conditions flexibility

13 Academy Freedoms – Conclusions 1
Potential for considerable fragmentation of the system if academy freedoms were to be more widely take up in the future – allied with increased school diversification and competition - could mean that each school acted in its own interests to the detriment of the system as a whole - a highly marketised education system where ‘dog eats dog’. However also potential for a mature outward looking system to develop that would be fit for purpose, freed from a dependency culture and prepared to take significant calculated risks to provide a continuing basis for improvements for pupils. Only when Minsters, policy makers, Headteachers and teachers evaluate all actions in the light of their impact on learners will we see real advances in the quality of teaching, learning and achievement.

14 Academy Freedoms – Conclusions 2
Government should articulate the case for innovation and a vision for 21st C learning that draws on the knowledge, skills and dispositions that young people will need for life and work. The DfE should pump prime the establishment of a Royal College of teachers – independent from government to promote teachers professional development and research Teachers should be expected to engage with research as an integral part of their daily work and that ITT providers should ensure that reflection and evaluation are developed as part of the repertoire of good teaching skills

15 Admissions Derogation of Admissions Code is allowed for Academies but only where it can be demonstrated that it better supports fair access for pupils and parents 4 main derogations have been applied relating to : Admissions of children whose parents first established the school and are named in the Funding Agreement Priority for children subject to the Service and Pupil Premiums Year One freedoms from the Code for Free Schools, UTCs and Studio schools so as to facilitate speedy opening Specialist technical disciplines attracting niche students

16 Diversification – Impact on Existing Provision
Internationally there is extensive experimentation with the organisation and structure of schooling and with different models of funding and governance: Charter Schools - North America, New Zealand, Canada KIPP – Knowledge is Power Programme schools (Chains) Friskolar (Sweden) Subsidised Private Schools Voucher system (Chile) In all the above the effects are positive (broadly comparable with other similar schools) but they are not impressive or transformational given the scale of the policy interventions required to create the diversification. Countries which have experimented most extensively with school independence have not seen their PISA scores improve substantially although on some measures there have been improvement. Cases where attainment gains have been reported are often simultaneously characterised by negative impact on social independence The question of long term implications of academisation is of more than national significance therefore and goes to the heart of validity of school systems

17 Diversification – Impact on Existing Provision
DfE stresses that the Academies Act 2010 was designed to generate competition, cooperation and collaboration. The argument was that the focus on school to school collaboration in the diversified system (allegedly) distinguished post 2010 academies from the Grant Maintained schools of the 1990s. The Commission notes that despite these intentions the Act does not actively incentivise collaboration nor hold Converter schools to account for their aspirations stated prior to the Funding Agreement. The issue is not the autonomy of schools but the framework within which that autonomy may be exercised and that without some regulation there could be fragmentation, provision vacuums and conglomerates. The EFA mechanisms for monitoring individual academy funding will not address the provision gaps, efficiencies and the needs of vulnerable groups.

18 Diversification – Impact on Existing Provision
4 ways in which an academised system might be inefficient resource wise : Unnecessary capital expenditure on schools which may be in the wrong place/not meet need - some Free School benefactors are opening schools in areas where standards are already high and surplus provision exists. Evidence that academies will seek to maintain existing size with a fewer number of community school taking more of the challenging pupils and absorbing the numbers growth Inefficient provision for pupils with SEN and gaps in provision when individual schools do not cooperate to resource more specialist needs. Lack of economies of scale in managing school support services. Inflated costs of senior personnel in academies and multiplication of senior positions

19 Changing Role of LAs The Commission recognises the need for stronger regional planning approaches to avoid a democratic deficit and destabilising the system and promote coherent panning. LAs still retain over 200 statutory accountabilities in relation to pupils/schools - with new ones added even in the last two years. In LAs with significant proportions of academies this is an impediment on their ability to exercise those statutory powers. Recent DfE notification regarding publishing league tables of LAs’ effectiveness on local provision in the HMCI Annual Report will bear little resemblance to the ability some LAs have to impact on local provision. In some areas the inability of LAs to direct Academies to expand will lead to serious place shortages with lack of lead-in time to address the gaps - no serious evidence has been presented that operating a local market in terms of school places will provide the right number of places at the times they are needed – there is no incentive for providers to move into the challenging areas.

20 Academies and Other Schools
Recognition from Headteachers (not universal) that Academies should be an integral part of local delivery and community planning and that therefore academies need to work closely and productively with other local partners. Majority accepted that strong academy providers and LAs are not at odds with each other although also some evidence of academy groups undermining community links/partnership through ‘assertive’ approaches to other schools in and out of area. Even academy leaders assumed that the LA would continue to have a backstop role in place provision and SEN but some LA CEOs indicate that they no longer have the resource to conduct those functions adequately. Being part of Academy Chain can weaken the autonomy of an individual school – ‘a growing paradox that academy status means more autonomy for some and less autonomy for others’

21 Diversification Impact – Conclusions
LAs should embrace a new role as Champions for Children with a local and aspirational vision for education - ensuring that, through scrutiny of all provision, it was meeting the needs of all in the area. LAs should report annually to the SoS on the quality of local provision so he receives early warning of emerging issues to address through his relationship with Academy Trusts. The Government should set out a coherent planning framework for the commissioning of school places -acknowledging the primacy of the LA as the lead body. Individual academies and groups should embrace a new relationship with LAs to ensure they contribute to local planning, review and development to support sufficiency and quality and meet the needs of all children

22 Academy Governance Commission surprised by high levels of concern about governance voiced by Sponsors re ability to deliver proper public scrutiny and accountability. Concern that despite autonomies innovation is limited because of pressures against risk taking from accountability measures such as Ofsted and performance data publication. In Academies Governing Bodies are responsible for good practice in individual schools with Central Government accountable for whole system outcomes and value for money. With Academies independence from LAs, GBs become the key mechanism for directing school improvement and the pivotal link between the school and the wider community. Many Governors have not understood their new roles as custodians of school improvement with no implicit LA support. In a Trust scenario the governors also take on the roles of Company Directors (Trusts are Charitable Companies Limited by Guarantee). In a fully academised model Governing Bodies therefore are exposed to both opportunities and risks

23 Academy Governance – Commission Risks
Lack of role understanding and implications by some academy governors about their roles as Company Directors. Lack of role understanding and implications by some academy governors about their responsibilities for school improvement and (in some cases) partnerships with less successful schools. Loss of cross-school collaboration Insufficient governors with the requisite time capacity or skills set. Lack of engagement by Governing Bodies with local community and other stakeholders. Lack of understanding of Company law and associated bureaucracy (eg. Liability Insurance levels). Impropriety of contracting out support services to one of their own companies (Members/Trustees/Directors). Converting Academies often had financial incentives as the driver so accelerating improvement as Government intention may be impeded Good CPD, Business Managers and Audit Committees can mitigate the above risks

24 Academy Governance - Structures
2 Levels: ‘Members’ – minimum number is 3 - strategic level with ultimate control over the direction of the Academy Trust and personal liability for the company’s assets inc. . holding the Funding Agreement with the DfE. ‘Governors/Directors/Trustees’ – Accountable to The Members and responsible for day to day management and educational matters for the Academy Trust. Sometimes the groups operate distinctly but they may conflate with Members sitting on the Governing Body and/or all Governors also being Members. MATs – Multi-Academy Chains establish a central Trust with executive oversight over Local Governing Bodies/Site Management Committees for individual schools, distinguishing strategic direction (exercised at whole chain level) from more operational accountability (at academy level). Sponsors – can charge a top-slice/management fee (3-10%) for the central coordination of arrangements and provision of overarching core services. Chain Governance offers potential benefits of stronger more specialist oversight, clarity of roles, capacity and support, innovation, and capacity building, but with potential risks of excessive central control, lack of local accountability/representation, departure from shared mission, loss of inclusive practice.

25 Academy Governance - Chairs
Process for appointing Chairs should become more professional and rigorous with advertised posts and independent person on the selection panel. Potential for Tax Credits as incentives Role Descriptors and ongoing CPD (National College). Access to Data Dashboards for individual schools or buy into local support arrangements and LA Data Protocols. Publication of an Annual Report for local accountability

26 Governance & Public Accountability
Better due diligence needed on Academy Sponsors ‘Beauty Parades must be ended’ Parental perceptions in some chains that the schools can do whatever they like and staff a can come and go/be otherwise deployed at will. Urgent need for central tracking of performance of chains – significant implications if a large chain ‘goes down’ for an area Plea to inspect chains of schools by Ofsted rather than individual schools 40 Academies were ‘red rated’ in 2011 with 8 Pre Warning Notices for 8 Sponsors . Over 50% sponsored academies rated by Ofsted as RI with 8% inadequate. Ditto for accountability of converter academies to deliver their initial promises re working with struggling partner schools in school improvement mode Amending of individual funding agreements is unsustainable as more academies emerge and needs greater clarity and transparency. Commission suggests a new role for LAs in reviewing contacts with sponsors using data from the OSC as the body responsible for commissioning/de-commissioning. Commission believes all publicly funded schools should be within a common administrative and legal framework and single national body for complaints – essential if all schools are academised./ Capacity (Skills and numbers) to operate external audit/intervention powers on a wider scale is questionable for the EFA

27 Looking Forward ‘Looking forward to a fully academised system it is imperative that the autonomous system has the appropriate capacity and mechanisms in place to secure good governance and accountability..… that bureaucracy does not stifle dynamism and innovation…... Don’t design systems for the few who don’t follow the code… is inevitable that there will be failures – reducing the scale and risk of such failures is a vital task as its about children’s futures…... Clarity, transparency and parity and needed in how different types of education institutions are expected/required to respond…... A key focus should be accountability to parents and schools being accountable to each other professionally..… greater thought about modes of accountability that facilitate school to school improvement is needed..…’

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