Councils better at turning around failing schools than academy chains, report says

Posted on: 2018-07-09 08:15:00

More failing schools are turned around by councils than academy chains, new analysis suggests.

Schools judged as "inadequate" by Ofsted that stay with their council are more likely to see their ratings improve than schools that become sponsored academies, a report has found.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, says its findings provide “compelling” evidence that councils should be allowed to intervene when schools are failing.

Since 2016, the government has said that all schools rated as inadequate have to open as sponsored academies – which means being taken over by academy trusts and leaving local authority control – as they argue the academisation system helps to boost standards.

But the report, which looks at 429 council-run schools rated as inadequate in 2013, found that 115 (75 per cent) of 152 schools that stayed with the council became good or outstanding by 2017.

Meanwhile, only 92 (59 per cent) of the 155 schools that had been inspected since becoming sponsored academies saw their Ofsted ratings improve to good or outstanding during that period.

In the report – published at the LGA’s annual conference in Birmingham this week – council leaders argue that they should be allowed to intervene and improve all types of school rated as inadequate.

Roy Perry, vice chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said the report demonstrated the “excellent track record councils have in turning around failing schools” and the “compelling need for councils to be recognised as effective education improvement partners”.

 He said: “Councils are responsible for making sure that every child gets a good education, so should not be stopped from improving struggling schools, whether a maintained school or an academy.

“It is not fair on children and parents to be denied the chance of a better education because their local council – with expertise in school improvement – is barred from helping.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “These calculations are misleading and fail to take into account that every school will have individual challenges, some of which, such as poor leadership and management, are far greater and taken longer to turn around, than others.

"Placing schools back under local authority control would be a backwards step and would not necessarily deliver the improvements in education children deserve.

“The fact is, after generations of ‎poor management, inadequate maintained schools have been turned around after becoming sponsored academies, with nearly 516,000 children studying in sponsored primary and secondary academies that are now rated good or outstanding, and were typically previously underperforming schools. 

“Indeed, of inspected sponsored academies whose predecessors were inadequate, 65 per cent are now either good or outstanding.”

Source: Independent

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