Eight years after the Academies Act was introduced, the government claims it is as focused as ever on converting all schools to academy status. In March 2017, Theresa May renewed her promise to create a system that is “fair and open for all” but questions have been asked about whether academies are delivering the best results for everyone.
Nearly two thirds of secondary schools in England are now academies but results are decidedly mixed between those with “converter” status and those which have been sponsored to become academies. In 2015, the Education Select Committee concluded that there was no strong evidence to suggest the academy system had improved outcomes in failing areas but noted that the increased competition had driven up standards across the whole state school sector. While the majority of primary schools have yet to become academies, experts have called for a thorough investigation into the efficacy of the academy system before any large scale conversion takes place.
On February 28, Salford Professional Development will host The Academies Event 2018, at Old Trafford Football Stadium. Every year, this free-to-attend event focuses on the many key issues impacting both existing academies and schools considering converting to academy status. As well as a line-up of expert speakers, the event provides access to the leading companies providing vital services in IT, estates management and finance for schools across the country.
In 2018, the focus for school leaders is on strengthening the leadership of academies and MATs in order to improve the education standards across the board and drive up attainment levels for all children. From governance to financial management, it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure academies are a success and work for all involved. The Association of School and College Leaders will be discussing the use of accountability and performance measures across academies and trusts and how whole school improvement can come as a result of proper accountability structures.
As of 2017, there are 5,905 academies across the UK with 61% of secondary schools in fully-fledged academy status. However, as the sustained push for maintained schools to convert has trailed off, many communities are pushing back on the idea and looking for alternative ways to improve schools. Furthermore there are variations across the board of some trusts shedding schools whilst others are growing at a phenomenal rate, DfE data from 2017 shows that one trust grew by a third. For many schools, sustainable MAT growth and implementing a structure to accommodate rapid expansion is a top priority going forward. Ambition School Leadership, who have worked alongside many schools during this phase, will give delegates the benefit of their expertise and will be available throughout the day to discuss how they can assist your trust through its growth.
The remit of senior leadership teams within academy trusts is now far greater than ever before especially when it comes to the financial health of the school. In an environment of stretched budgets and cut funding, good financial management has never been more important to an academies survival. The Government argues that as well as boosting efficiencies, the multi-academy model allows struggling schools to learn from their more successful counterparts. However, studies have suggested that MATs have had no greater impact on school standards than local authorities and concerns have been raised over the high levels of debt within the sector. The Academies Event 2018 will cover good financial management with case studies from leading trusts and financial managers who will be on hand to help you understand your financial position and plan for the future.