The number of schools choosing to become academies has slumped dramatically in the past 12 months, continuing a strongly downward trend which started two years ago, Education Uncovered can reveal.
In the academic year 2018-19 the number of applications to the Department for Education from local authority schools volunteering to take on academy status was less than half what it had been the previous year, this website’s exclusive analysis of official government data shows.
And academy application numbers are now barely a third of what they were at their peak in 2016-17, the statistics show. They suggest academisation may be moving towards a ceiling in the primary sector unless there is a change of direction for the policy.
Academies accounted for 39 of the 41 schools with the highest exclusion rates. The other two were run by their local authority.
An English state school has suspended more than half its pupils in a single year for the first time on record, Guardian analysis has found, as national exclusion rates continue to rise.
Red House academy in Sunderland, run by the Northern Education Trust, an academy chain, recorded the highest fixed-term exclusion rate in England in the 2017-18 academic year. It handed at least one fixed-term exclusion to 254 pupils, just over half the total attending the school.
Forty-one schools excluded more than one in five pupils, or roughly 10 times the national rate of 2.3%. Two academy chains – Outwood Grange Academies Trust and the Northern Education Trust – dominated that list with nine and seven of their schools featuring respectively.
A raft of dramatic and controversial education measures including billions of pounds in new funding, a crackdown on student behaviour and a further wave of free schools are to be announced by the government within days, according to a confidential briefing paper seen by the Guardian.
Councils are warning that a looming shortage in the number of school places across England is being made worse by academies, as last decade’s baby boom enters secondary schools over the next five years.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for the government to restore powers to councils enabling them to open new maintained schools if residents support them, and for new powers for councils to require academies to expand to meet local demand.