What should a Labour government do about academies and local authorities?

We know that the policy of academies been a disaster for education. The question is what should be done about them? Angela Rayner’s speech at Labour Party Conference in September was mainly about academies. She listed a number of ‘interim measures’ that a new Labour government would take. They include no new free schools, and local authorities to be responsible for admissions and able to open new schools. That begs the question what will happen to academies after the ‘interim measures’?

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Tens of thousands of pupils at rudderless ‘zombie schools’

An estimated 53,000 pupils attend so-called zombie schools that are stuck in administrative limbo as they wait for new sponsors.

Official figures show that 93 academies are in the process of transferring between trusts after their original sponsor backed out. The figure has increased by 45 per cent from 64 in 2017.The academies are said to be crippled by the uncertainty of the transfer process, with governing bodies hesitating to make long-term decisions until a sponsor is found.


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Career civil servants could head academies system

The DfE is planning changes to the system that oversees academies which could lead to career civil servants rather than former school leaders overseeing thousands of schools, Tes can reveal.

It is understood that the proposals could also see the offices of the eight regional schools commissioners (RSCs) beefed up and given a greater role in areas such as teacher recruitment.

The DfE said the reforms, which have yet to be publicly announced, amounted to “operational changes” rather than changes to policy.


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Academies giant AET gets second school improvement warning in a matter of weeks

Another school run by the Academies Enterprise Trust is in hot water and may be rebrokered to another sponsor because of falling standards.

Dominic Herrington, the national schools commissioner, has issued another “minded to terminate” notice to AET warning the trust over performance at the ‘inadequate’-rated Bexleyheath Academy in London.

The school was given the lowest possible Ofsted rating following a visit in November after inspectors found the school failed to deliver an “acceptable standard” of education and warned of falling standards over “several years”

It is the second warning notice issued to AET in recent weeks. The trust was warned last month that it could lose control of Offa’s Mead Academy in Sedbury, Gloucestershire, which was also recently rated ‘inadequate’.

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Academy with £20 million PFI contract ordered to improve its finances

A school tied into a £20 million PFI contract and with “significant” deficits forecast this year has been ordered by the government to improve its finances and join a multi-academy trust.

Bradfield School in Sheffield, which is expecting to have racked up a deficit of £800,000 by August, has been told to begin the process of moving into a larger sponsor after officials questioned its viability as a standalone school. The school must have kick-started the process by September.

The school has been issued with a financial notice to improve by the Education and Skills Funding Agency for failing to submit audited financial statements – which were due on December 31. The school was already subject to ESFA intervention “due to concerns regarding financial management”.

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