Plan A+ 2014

Reform’s latest report presents a powerful challenge to both Government and Opposition.

In November 2013, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt MP, said that freeing up schools would lead to an “atomistic school landscape where every school is an island.” This report directly refutes that claim.

Between June and October 2013, Reform surveyed 654 academies in association with the education group, SSAT. The report finds that just under half of academies are supporting a vulnerable neighbouring school. Plus over 80 per cent have seen relations with local schools improve or stay the same.

Survey results

60 per cent of those surveyed believe all schools should enjoy the same freedoms as academies and free schools. 80 per cent would recommend academy status to other schools. Yet few academies are innovating, with two thirds having yet to use their freedoms over the curriculum, staff terms and conditions or the school day.

Academy schools are part of a growing movement towards diversity and choice in education. Academies are publicly-funded schools that are free from local authority control. The first academies opened in 2002. Since then, they have grown greatly in number, rising to 3,613 at the end of January 2014.

The potential of academies to reform the education system is yet to be realised. Many have still to capitalise on their freedoms to bring about positive change for English pupils. From this point of view, academies are an unfinished revolution.

Speaking of the benefits of working in an academy school, one respondent said:

“I think that education flourishes when schools take control of their own destiny and exercise local autonomy within a national framework”

Another mentioned:

“We feel very confident about setting our own direction and developing our own initiatives”.

54 per cent of schools report results have improved for all pupils since conversion. 53 per cent report that results have improved among the most disadvantaged pupils.

This report is the second of two reports. The first was conducted from December 2011 and February 2012 and can be downloaded here (PDF).

Download: Reform and SSAT 2013 academies survey (Excel)