The number of academies moving to a different trust has increased by almost a third in one year to reach a record high.
According to official statistics released by the Department for Education today, 255 academies moved to another trust in the financial year 2017-18, an increase of 30 per cent from 196 the year before. The number is a 1,114 per cent increase on 2013-14, when just 21 academies moved trust.
The data shows the Department for Education has now spent almost £23 million on grants for academy transfers. The total cost of the moves is likely to be far higher.
Since 2013-14, 628 academies have moved trust. This is equivalent to 3.3 per cent of all open academies in England.
Although the data does not specify the reason why each academy moved to a new trust, it usually happens because a trust is underperforming and the academy has been re-brokered by the government. An academy can also choose to move voluntarily, for example if a single academy wanted to join a multi-academy trust.
Big rise in transfers of academies to new sponsors
It is worrying that academy trusts will increasingly be led by people from business with no experience of teaching, the government’s academy tsar has said.
Sir David Carter said that currently about 90 per cent of multi-academy trust CEOs had previously been headteachers, but he expected this proportion to drop in the future.
The national schools commissioner told Tes that “as the landscape gets more complex, we will need a more complex skills set in some places”.
He said that in the future there would be “more people than there are at the moment who are in a CEO role who have maybe worked in industry or in business or in a university rather than just the single school route coming through”.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hit the news again recently after the Rand Corporation issued a damning verdict in its final report on the foundation’s Teacher Effectiveness Initiative. All credit to Rand for not attempting to sugar a bitter pill the size of a golf ball by concluding, laconically, that the initiative did not achieve its goals for student achievement or graduation, particularly for LIM (low-income minority) students.
The US has a famously optimistic, positive view of philanthropic giving, but when the $212 million that the foundation contributed had to be supplemented by another $363 million from the US taxpayer, then a rethink about whether or not this constitutes philanthropy seems in order.
The same situation exists in the UK, albeit on a much-reduced scale. The Sutton Trust spent a mere £5.6 milllion last year but is arguably the most influential educational organisation in the country. It is, in essence, the vehicle for private equity millionaire Sir Peter Lampl’s social mobility philanthropy, backed up by central government funding and money from other charities, including the Impetus Trust and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, although it’s not easy to work out where the money comes from.
However, it’s not actually the financial aspect of this kind of activity that interests me. I’m far more intrigued by the apparent naivety that fuels it. The Rand report’s recommendations on the Gates Teacher Effectiveness Initiative must be the most expensive in educational history. I could name a good number of colleagues I’ve worked with, on numerous national and international educational programmes, who could have saved them the trouble.
A report by the parliamentary public accounts committee into the government’s record on converting schools into academies found the Department for Education “did not pay enough attention” to ensuring its scrutiny of applicants was sufficiently rigorous.
Although the government is now strengthening its examination of the financial viability and improvement capabilities of would-be academy sponsors, it should have addressed these issues “much earlier”, the committee said, adding that recent interventions “do not go far enough”
MPs’ stern warning over ‘incoherent’ system and costly, ‘risky’ academisation
Following a question in Parliament
The government published a list of 21 schools that have had their academies orders revoked.
This is the list: