1000th school converts to academy status
Nearly 1.2 million children in England now attend academies - schools with the freedom to meet the needs of their pupils, rather than answering to local or national politicians and bureaucrats. This means one in three secondary pupils are taught in academies.
Today, Schools Minister Lord Hill opens the 1,000th school to choose academy status. Smarden Primary School in Ashford, Kent, is becoming part of the Kemnal Academies Trust and joins more than 1,300 academies already open across the country.
The Academies programme has expanded rapidly in the last twelve months. In July 2010 the Academies Act made it possible for any good school to apply to become an academy. Since then more than 1500 have applied with 1031 set to be open by the end of this week.
In addition, there are 319 sponsored academies, turning around schools that were previously underperforming. The Government is increasing the number of sponsored academies with 116 opening since the election. More will open this year than ever before.
More than 40 per cent of all secondary schools are now open or in the process of opening as academies.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said:
There are now more than 1,300 academies open. One thousand have opened in the last year. One million children are now educated in academies.
They benefit from longer school days, smaller class sizes, better paid teachers, more personalised learning, improved discipline and higher standards all round.
Sheila Todd, Headteacher of Smarden Primary School, said:
Smarden Primary School has converted to academy status to further improve our children’s progress, attainment and achievement.
We have taken advantage of the freedoms and opportunities given to academy schools by working in close partnership with both primary and secondary schools to make a difference to pupils across The Kemnal Academies Trust.
Academies benefit from greater freedoms to innovate and raise standards. These include:
- freedom from local and central government control
- the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff
- freedoms around the delivery of the curriculum
- freedom to change the lengths of terms and school days.
As of today:
- 1,350 schools are now academies across England. By the end of this week 1,031 schools will have converted from local authority control since the new Government. 319 are sponsored academies - of which 116 have opened since May 2010 and 45 more are expected to open later this academic year.
- There are 101 chains of converter academies with a total of 289 schools. On average there are around three schools working together to improve education for their pupils making up these chains.
- Nearly 1.2 million pupils are now attending academies - this means around one in seven pupils in state maintained schools are now attending Academies and one in three pupils in secondary schools.
Strong schools that convert to academy status are expected to support other local schools that could benefit from improvement and the Government is targeting the 200 worst primary schools in the country and turning them into academies next year. The government is also seeing a range of other academy models coming through - including schools that converted at the start of the programme who are now becoming academy sponsors and running a chain of schools. These schools recognise that, by working in partnership with good or outstanding schools, they will be able to gain the knowledge, teaching and leadership expertise they need to raise standards faster.
Notes to editors
The latest list of open academies is available in the academies section of our website.
The numbers of academies opening in each year up to May 2010 is below:
3 opened in 2002
9 opened in 2003
5 opened in 2004
10 opened in 2005
19 opened in 2006
37 opened in 2007
47 opened in 2008
70 opened in 2009
3 opened in January 2010
Since June 2010 a further 1147 have opened. Of these 116 have been sponsored academies.
Case studies of academies
Seaton Academy, Cumbria, converted in September 2010 and was one of the first to open as a converter academy and to take advantage of the autonomy and freedoms that academy status brings.
The school has been able to better tailor the curriculum to their needs - considering new ideas and implementing the parts that they felt were most suitable for their specific circumstances. They have reported this as being a substantial change, as previously they were bound by the local authority to implement new strategies, regardless of the suitability for their school.
No longer restricted by the requirements of their local authority, they are now able to source the best support and services for their pupils and school, whilst getting best value for money. Teachers’ terms and condition have been improved, for example, by introducing discretionary award payments which has been hugely motivating for staff.
The academy has also started to make some adjustments to the school year - with shorter summer holidays and the half term lengthened. This has change is part of their strategy for dealing with absences resulting from parents taking children out of school for cheaper holidays during term time.
Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Trafford, became an academy in February 2011 and is working with three underperforming schools in the area. The school has been working particularly closely with Broomwood Primary School, sharing specialist language teachers to teach French and Spanish lessons at the school. This has helped Broomwood Primary set up its own provision for language lessons. Similarly, having achieved a science specialism, Altrincham Grammar, shared their expertise by providing access to their resources and lab equipment, providing guidance on rewriting Science schemes of work for Years 5 and 6 and supporting teachers in delivering these schemes. Gifted and Talented students from Broomwood, and other local schools, were also offered the opportunity to attend after-school Science sessions at the high school.
The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School, Havering in a collaborative partnership chain with The Brittons Academy, Havering.
Coopers (good with outstanding features) viewed academy conversion as building on their existing philosophy to seek greater freedoms and autonomy, enabling them to develop their school as they would wish. They choose to convert in a partnership (chain) with a local school at the other side of the Borough, The Brittons Academy, (satisfactory) as it is now called. Prior to conversion the two head teachers developed an action plan of how they would support each other in future.
Both schools converted on 1st April 2011 and have found independence a maturing process, building on many of the strengths that the school previously. The partnership working has been a key success and Coopers are working closely with Brittons on combined CPD days and have arranged paired support of weaker departments. They have also set up a management link between the two SLTs and the head teacher from Coopers has become the School Improvement Partner for Brittons.
Coopers report that it is possible that more partner schools will be added to this chain in future.
Tudor Grange Academy, Solihull
Tudor Grange Academy, Solihull (converter Academy) is the sponsor of Tudor Grange Academy, Worcester (sponsored Academy).
Since becoming the sponsor, Tudor Grange, Solihull has provided intensive support to the Tudor Grange, Worcester. This has resulted in a turnaround in Tudor Grange, Worcester who in their first year as an academy became one of five nominated finalists in the national Academy of the Year award. Improvements were also made in discipline, behaviour, attendance, achievement and attainment, with Tudor Grange, Worcester being oversubscribed on first choice applications for the first time.
Tudor Grange, Solihull have reported that despite initial uncertainties dealing with the autonomy and freedoms that academy status brought, they are already noticing real and tangible benefits. Tudor Grange, Solihull have been able to increase staffing, improve the pupil-teacher ratio and reduce average class sizes (which also occurred at their partner in Worcester). They have reported feeling a greater sense of responsibility and fell as though they are now more accountable to the communities that they serve.