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16th March 2016

Solace statement on compulsory schools ‘Academisation’

On 16 March 2016, the Chancellor delivered his annual Budget, including the announcement that by 2020 every school must become an Academy. This is a statement from Phil Norrey, Solace Spokesperson for Children and Families and Chief Executive of Devon County Council:

Today’s announcement on compulsory ‘Academisation’, which was trailed in last year’s spending review, is hugely disappointing. The Government suggests that this will increase school’s independence, and in doing so, raise educational standards.

We disagree with this logic.

Firstly, there is no compelling evidence that Academy status is a significant contributor to raising school standards. Indeed, a recent letter written by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools to the Secretary of State makes clear his concerns about the performance of a number of Academy chains.

Secondly, the continued rhetoric about freeing schools from Council control is misleading. In terms of their day to day running schools have been largely autonomous from local authority control since the early 1990s. In fact, the management of schools has become increasingly centralised nationally and today’s announcement reflects a further move in this direction.

SOLACE advocates that services are convened at the level at which policy outcomes can be delivered most effectively and where democratic accountability is assured. We do not feel the Academisation policy fulfills these criteria and instead raises more questions than it answers.