Department for Education
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New accreditation system for school providers who will turn round underperforming schools

Details of the new ‘kitemark’ for school providers announced


Providers with the most capacity given opportunities to set up groups of schools


Leading education institutions and other successful organisations will gain a ‘kitemark’ to set up chains of schools under plans announced by Ed Balls yesterday. This will mean extending the reach of the best leaders, spreading their excellence and making sure that every school is a good school.


The new accreditation process will be used to select partners and sponsors for trust schools, federations and Academies. The Government will provide £20m to enable the providers to drive improvement across the system.


The proposals have already gained widespread support and following the consultation we expect that 50 providers will apply for the first wave in 2011. Among those who have said they will apply are the Harris Federation, Outwood Grange Family, The Kemnal Trust and Barnfield College, some of the strongest sponsor and partner organisations in the country.


There will be two categories. Accredited School Providers (ASP) will take over up to two underperforming schools in need of rapid, sustainable school improvement. Those providers with the best track records will be able to become an Accredited Schools Group (ASG) and run more than 3 schools or academies.


To achieve accreditation providers will need to demonstrate
• sound governance;
• effective leadership and management;
• a strong model for managing and improving schools;
• a track record of improving outcomes for children and young people; and
• the capacity to achieve transformational change in the schools they are supporting.


Research published today by the National College (formerly NCSL) shows that school federations raise standards, and are particularly strong when strong schools federate with lower attaining schools.


Potential providers will include successful schools, colleges, universities and other organisations like business, charity, faith and parents groups. The system will be robust, but quick and light touch.


This builds on what has worked successfully in the Academies and National Challenge programmes. We expect that our proposals will reduce the overall burden for Academy sponsors by making sponsor selection more uniform and transparent and we will seek to achieve the same outcome for those leading Majority Trusts and Federations.


Speaking today Ed Balls said:


“I want the best schools, colleges, universities and organisations to turn round underperforming schools. As we have seen in the Academies programme, strong partners and sponsors can have a huge impact on improving school performance. I want more of these partnerships but it is right to ensure that we identify the best possible providers.


“The accreditation system will be rigorous but light-touch, to encourage the best providers to apply. We are particularly keen to hear what potential providers think about our proposals to ensure we have the right balance.


“The new system will encourage further partnership by making the process easier and clearer, helping schools and Local Authorities to choose the most suitable partners. It will also reduce some of the work currently involved in becoming a trust partner or Academy sponsor by standardising the process and making the expectations on partners and sponsors clear.”


The Schools White Paper, ‘Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st Century Schools system’ set out that DCSF would develop and promote an accreditation system for education providers wishing to operate groups of schools. There are a range of formal partnerships which require a significant contribution from those involved, where a lead partner will have the majority governance, and be accountable for improvement in a school which is underperforming. These include Academies, Majority Trust Schools and Federations and amalgamations.


The proposals have gained the support from across the schools system. Dan Moynihan, Chief Executive of the Harris Federation, an outstanding Academy sponsor which runs a chain of Academies across South London, said today:


“The Harris Federation supports the introduction of an accreditation system for academy sponsors. Harris academies have consistently improved the results and life chance of young people and we would want all youngsters to have this opportunity. The new system will help to make this possible”


National Leaders of Education, who are recognised as some of the best headteachers in the country, also gave their support, John Atkins of the Kemnal Trust in Bromley said:

"I welcome these proposals for the accreditation of new school providers. Bringing in those with the proven skills and experience to help turn around schools is an important step forward in the continuing drive to raise standards. Kemnal Technology College has successfully supported other schools through the Kemnal Trust and I look forward to putting the Trust forward as one of the first organisations to seek accreditation. "


David Carter of the John Cabot Federation said:


“I welcome these proposals for the accreditation of new school providers
where schools work together in collaboration to raise standards. Bringing in those with the skills and experience to support school improvement and create better opportunities for more children and young people will help in the continuing drive to raise standards. The Cabot Learning Foundation consists of three Academies in East Bristol and I look forward to putting the Federation forward to seek accreditation."


David Triggs of the Academies Enterprise Trust said:


“I welcome these proposals for the accreditation of new school providers. This is a helpful way to secure the skills and experience necessary to raise standards. The Academies Enterprise Trust has supported improvement in a number of the Academies it sponsors and I look forward to putting the Trust forward to seek accreditation.”


Michael Wilkins, Chief Executive, Outward Grange family, said


"As a successful school that has formed an Academy federation with another school to drive improvements, Outward Grange would like to build on this and use the new accreditation and sponsor proposals to drive improvement across a group of schools. We look forward to putting the Academy Trust forward as one of the first organisations to seek accreditation. "


Stephen Munday, Executive Principal - Comberton Village College said:


“Comberton Village College supports the proposals to create an accreditation process for school providers and intend to put ourselves forward for accreditation. We strongly support the principles behind this development: schools working with schools to raise student achievement across the system. We are clear that this can be a positive development for our own school and hope that we will also support achievement in other schools through this. It really does seem a way for all of us to gain and move forward together.”


Ani Magill, headteacher - St John the Baptist School, said:

“I welcome the launch of the consultation on proposals for the accreditation of school providers and groups. St John the Baptist School intends to seek accreditation and we hope that the system will be as simple and straightforward as possible to ensure that the right providers are successful"


Sir Bruce Liddington, Director General of EACT, an Academy sponsor said:


"EACT sponsor seven Academies and know the effect that sponsors can have on raising standards and turning around underperforming schools. We welcome the launch of a process that will enable a range of organisations to seek accreditation as school providers or school groups and EACT will want to be one of the first organisations to take part.


“Bringing in the best education providers to spread good practice across the system is another key step forward in the drive for continuing school improvement"


Support also came from the Higher and Further Education sector. Pete Birkett, Principal of Barnfield College, Luton said:

"As a successful college, Barnfield sponsors two Academies that have both seen large improvements in attainment. I would like to build on this and use the new accreditation and sponsor proposals in order to develop a Barnfield Group of Schools. This would allow us spread our expertise and commitment and help more young people get the high standard of education that they deserve. "


Prof Di Birch, Academy Project Director, University of Nottingham said:


"The University of Nottingham is proud to be involved with the Academies programme and I hope that the new accreditation proposals will encourage others to get involved and sponsor Academies".


Professor Tim Wheeler of Chester University said:


"We are delighted to have opened the University of Chester Church of England Ellesmere Port Academy this September and look forward to the Academy going from strength to strength. The consultation on accredited school groups is to be welcomed and I hope that other educational institutions will get involved in both Academies and other school improvement partnerships."


Elaine McMahon, Chief Executive and Principal Hull College said:


"Hull College sponsors the recently opened Sirius Academy in Kingston upon Hull. I hope that the accreditation process for Academy sponsors and school providers will encourage other high performing colleges to put themselves forward for accreditation"


Representatives from the independent school sector, which has played a strong role in the Academies programme, also welcomed the proposals. Ralph Mainard from Dulwich College said today:

"Dulwich College believes in working with organizations committed to raising standards in education. We therefore welcome the policy for the accreditation of school groups and would urge you to respond to the consultation."

David Bilton, Chairman of Woodard Schools, said:


"Woodard Schools support the development of an accreditation process for school sponsors. We currently run two Academies with plans to develop further ones, and believe that an accreditation system would be a valuable 'quality mark' for sponsors and would affirm our credentials as a premier educational provider. We intend to go through the process of seeking accreditation and would encourage others with the necessary skills and experience to consider becoming involved."


Anthony Seldon, Master - Wellington College, said:


"Wellington College is keen to help raise school standards across the system and that is we why we were delighted to sponsor and found the Wellington Academy. The proposal to develop an accreditation process for school providers will help to extend the pool of talent available and can only help to raise standards even further. We need to move ahead thoughtfully but speedily.”


Major education groups also welcomed the proposals:


John Dunford, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders said


“I welcome the way in which it is now acknowledged that school-to-school support is the best way to deliver school improvement. The National Leaders of Education and National Support Schools programme, like the London Challenge that preceded it, has shown the way forward and is proving to be successful in improving the supported schools. In the sense that this school accreditation programme replicates these schemes, it is to be commended. The alignment between the criteria for NLE/NSSs and accredited school groups is sensible.”

Toby Salt, Deputy Chief Executive of the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services

“We welcome this announcement as it puts the country’s best headteachers - National Leaders of Education - at the heart of spreading great leadership talent across chains of schools.

“Up to a quarter of a million children across the country have already benefited from their expertise. Having NLE status as the key route into leading accredited groups of schools means the very best heads can have the greatest impact by taking on these demanding but hugely rewarding roles across schools in some of the most challenging circumstances.”


Martin Doel, Chief Executive - Association of Colleges

"Colleges have a long history of working in partnership with schools and other organisations in local areas. We are therefore very interested in contributing more to supporting long term improvements in the education of young people and welcome work toward the accreditation and recognition of schools and Colleges working together in such groups."


Fiona Waye, Policy Adviser, Universities UK


“Many of Universities UK’s members are involved in Academy and Trust schools and in other partnerships with schools. We welcome the launch of the consultation on the new accreditation scheme and look forward to participating in the process.”

Editor's Notes
This press notice relates to 'England'
1. The consultation documents can be found on

2. The Schools White Paper, ‘Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st Century Schools system’ sets out that DCSF would develop and promote an accreditation system for education providers wishing to operate groups of schools. Further information can be found here:


3. The proposed system will have two levels of accreditation. Providers managing up to 2 trust schools, Academies or a federation of 2 schools will need the first level accreditation (ASP), whilst those who want to run 3 or more will be expected to gain a second accreditation (ASG) allowing them to run large chains and federations. The consultation also sets out how accreditation will be removed if providers do not maintain the standards or behaviours expected of them. Existing sponsors/partners will not have to seek accreditation to continue running their existing Academies/schools, but will be expected to get an accreditation for future projects.


4. There are now 200 academies open – 67 opened this September. Up to 100 are due to open in 2010 helping us to reach our target of 400 academies. Academy sponsors come from a wide range of backgrounds: Universities, Further Education colleges, high performing state schools (55 universities, 28 FE Colleges and 21 high performing schools are now involved in the programme), independent schools, businesses, philanthropists, the charitable sector and the faith communities. The2008 independent evaluation of Academies by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said: ‘Ofsted reinforces our conclusion that, overall, sponsorship contributes significantly to school improvement’. The new system will apply to those academy projects starting from spring 2010.


5. Full details of the National College’s research on federations can be found on their website:

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