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Report call for improvements in academies programme

14/01/2013 Kelly
Greater collaboration between academies is required to assist recruits to teaching jobs in these schools to create a better learning environment, according to a new report.

In response to the rapid rise in academy numbers under the current government, the Pearson Think Tank and the RSA established a commission to assess the current and potential future impact of the academies programme.

The Academies Commission has now published its report, which highlighted the successes achieved by some of the best academies, but also warned that switching to academy status was no "panacea" for school improvement.

Rather, it called for a forensic focus on teaching and its impact on pupils' learning, arguing that expectations around collaboration and school-to-school support should be built in to applications to convert to academy status.

Moreover, the report stated that a radical shift was required in the capacity, knowledge and attitude of academy governors, adding that this could be assisted through the greater collaboration between governing bodies across schools.

It also recommended that the government establish and pump-prime a Royal College of Teachers to encourage more effective use of research to develop classroom practice among primary and secondary teachers.

The Commission's chair Christine Gilbert commented: "There are already many examples of stunning success; however academisation alone cannot bear the burden of improvement.

"There has to be enough support and challenge in the system and enough checks and balances, for academies or groups of academies to be able to use the independence they have gained professionally and with moral purpose."

Furthermore, the Commission stressed the importance of accessibility, stating that an independent organisation should be selected to provide an appeals service for disputes over admissions and that academies should provide socioeconomic data about applicants and pupils.

It also demanded greater accountability, arguing that the sponsor selection process should be more transparent and include more stringent evaluation of skills and capabilities, as well as advocating more regular and formal reporting to parents and the local community.

Commenting on the report, National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower called it a "damning indictment" of the academies programme, which she claimed compounded the disadvantages already facing many young people.

However, a spokesperson for the Department for Education insisted that all academies had to adhere to its fair admissions code and that anyone with concerns over pupil admissions can formally object to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801521247-ADNFCR
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