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Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday announced the opening up of the route to academy status so that every school can become an academy by allowing existing schools that are strong performers to work in partnership with weaker schools.
Michael Gove yesterday made the announcement alongside the Prime Minister at an event at Downing Street, with more than 150 outstanding school headteachers who have already applied to open academies.
Alongside outstanding schools, all schools that are ranked good with outstanding features by Ofsted will automatically be eligible for academy status. All other schools – primary or secondary – that wish to enjoy academy freedoms will also be eligible, providing they work in partnership with a high-performing school that will help drive improvement.
In addition, for the first time, special schools will also have the opportunity to become academies, providing them the opportunity to operate with greater freedom and autonomy in order to better respond to the needs of children with special educational needs or disabilities. Special schools will be able to apply to convert in January.
The extension of the Academies programme builds on some of the Government’s key priorities for education – to promote innovation and diversity in the schools system, to give power and freedom back to heads and teachers, and to raise school standards by getting the highest performing institutions to help the weakest to improve.
Speaking ahead of an event with academy headteachers, Prime Minster David Cameron said:
Improving education is central to our reform agenda and we are committed to giving governors, headteachers and teachers more control over how they run their schools. We know they are best placed to decide how to give their pupils the best possible education and that is why we are encouraging more schools to become academies.
Many more schools will now be able to become academies and I am pleased they will be able to enjoy the additional freedoms, responsibility and empowerment that comes with academy status.
Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, said:
Inspirational school leaders like Mike Wilkins at Outwood Grange, David Triggs at Greensward, David Hampson at Tollbar, and Barry Day at Nottingham Academy have all secured exceptional results for children at their own schools and are now extending their reach even further. They have used academy powers to take weaker schools under their wing and help raise standards in local underperforming schools.
We know that the best way of improving schools is by getting the professionals, who have already done a brilliant job, to spread their wings. That is why we are now allowing more schools to benefit by enabling all schools to apply for academy status, if they are teamed with a high-performing school.
The Academies Act, passed earlier this year, made it possible for any school – primary, secondary or special – to become an academy. The Government promised that all schools would have the option of applying but that it would fast-track applications from outstanding schools first. Until today, only schools ranked outstanding could apply to gain academy status.
Since the act passed in July this year, more than 220 schools have applied and 80 have already opened. This is record progress; it took five years for 15 city technology colleges to open and four years for the first 27 academies.
John Atkins, CEO of the Kemnal Academies Trust, said:
I am delighted with this new initiative as it will accelerate the raising of standards in all our schools. Groups of schools working together raises standards for all pupils and will transform the education landscape.
Tom Clark, Executive Chairman of the Foundation, Aided Schools and Academies National Association (FASNA), said:
We’ve had enquiries from many, many schools who, as good schools with outstanding features, wish to convert, and less highly ranked schools who want to do so with an outstanding partner. Schools welcome the opportunity to exercise greater freedoms effectively in order to raise standards and to work with other schools to this end.
FASNA will support its members in the application process to become academies.
David Triggs, CEO of the Academies Enterprise Trust, said:
The Academies Enterprise Trust is now responsible with its partners for the delivery of education in seven academies, with a further four joining the network next year. Our single aim is 'a place in a good school for every child'. The trust that this coalition is placing with National Leaders of Education and high-performing schools is a paradigm shift in the way that education services are provided. For the first time in my 37 years in education, headteachers and principals are being given the responsibility, accountability – but most of all authority – to lead the educational agenda.
A report published in 2007 by McKinsey’s stated that ‘the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers’. This Government is offering all schools the opportunity to deliver a world-class education system and I hope headteachers and principals across England will embrace the trust that is being given to them.
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