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All primary schools 'should become academies'

23/09/2014 Kelly
Converting all primary schools into academies could be the most effective way of dealing with future education challenges.

Thinktank Policy Exchange has said the scale offered by academy chains provides the best way for those in teaching jobs to focus on their classroom duties, rather than spending time filling in forms and conducting other administrative tasks.

The secondary sector has seen the most significant number of conversions to academy status, with 56 per cent now classified as this type of institution.

Among primary schools, however, there has been less enthusiasm, with only 11 per cent take-up.

According to Policy Exchange, more than 3,000 primary schools (20 per cent) could fall below the government's rigorous new minimum standards in reading and writing and maths in 2016. 

They are facing a number of serious challenges, including a drop off in local authority funding, retiring teachers and the introduction of a new curriculum and assessment systems.

Under the proposals, each primary school would be encouraged to join existing academy chains by 2020, helping them to deal with these challenges and providing teachers with more support.

Regional schools commissioner for south-west England Sir David Carter gave his backing to the report. 

"An entirely autonomous academised system is a vision which I wholly endorse," he said. "Not because of a statistical quest to have every school an academy, but because the academy in which you will work will be part of a wider family and the independence this brings creates opportunity for innovation and choice."

The study also recommends that all local authority secondary schools become academies over the same time period, along with special schools. Although they should not be compelled to join chains, they should be encouraged to form partnerships to develop a self-improving system.

In addition, individual schools could be encouraged to switch between chains - provided they are rated as good or outstanding - to encourage competition and fluidity in the market.

Regional school commissioners or directors of school standards should be given greater powers to oversee and approve chains, and to split up underperforming ones, the report's authors claim.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801750041-ADNFCR
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