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The academisation of “inadequate” schools has slowed to just one conversion a month, official figures reveal.
Only three schools launched as academies between October and December following forced conversion, Schools Week analysis shows. It marks the lowest monthly opening rate on record, while September’s 11 conversions were the fewest since 2005.
The slowdown comes despite the Department for Education’s renewed academy drive that began early last year.
The veteran educationist Sir Tim Brighouse is in an optimistic mood. This may be a period of “doubt and disillusion”, especially as Covid threatens to disrupt another school year, but in his view such times inevitably lead to change. With that in mind, he has just co-authored a sweeping 600-page overview of modern education policy, with suggestions he hopes will contribute to a new direction.
Written with the curriculum expert Mick Waters, About Our Schools divides recent history into two eras: a postwar age of “hope and optimism”, in which teachers were pretty free to do what they liked, followed by a post-Thatcher age of “markets, centralisation and managerialism”, in which the influence of inspections and league tables became all-pervasive and individual ministers could decide how skills such as subtraction should be taught in every classroom in England.
The focus is likely to be on standards and school improvement, with (hopefully) a more coherent approach to curriculum support and accountability. Perhaps the most important question, though, is how ministers choose to tackle the issues surrounding academisation and structural reform.
Half of all schools and 80 per cent of secondaries are now academies.
Most are in a multi-academy trust (MAT) – the average size of which has slowly grown year on year.
In 2018, the first year of compulsory gender pay gap reporting, women working in the public sector earned 86p for every £1 their male counterparts did. In 2021, that dropped to 84p.
The vast majority – 88.7% – of 1,545 public sector organisations reported a median pay gap in favour of men, with 693 paying men at least 20% more than women.
Of the 50 organisations with the widest gaps –private or public sector – 18 were multi-academy trusts, which run academy schools.
The Learning for Life Partnership, which operates five primary schools in Cheshire East, reported a median pay gap of 77.2%, with women earning on average 23p for every £1 their male colleagues did, while the Pele Trust in Northumberland had a median gap of 72.5%. In all, 80 academies had gaps of 50% or more.