Press release

Schools Commissioner calls for more academies in Derbyshire

Schools Commissioner encourages Derbyshire’s best-performing schools to become academies to help raise standards.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

teacher working with students

Schools Commissioner Frank Green today called on more schools to consider the benefits of academy status as latest figures highlighted how they are improving standards across the county.

Speaking ahead of an event for future academy sponsors on Thursday, Mr Green said the strong performance of the county’s academies showed what could be achieved outside of council control.

There are currently 17 academies in Derbyshire. 14 are secondary academies (2 sponsored and 12 are converters) while there are just 3 primary academies (all converters). Academy numbers have grown steadily from 2010 when there was just 1 sponsored academy.

Figures show that in 2013:

  • the proportion of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at C or better including English and maths was 4 percentage points higher in sponsored academies - long-term underperforming schools now run by sponsors - than local authority schools
  • the proportion of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at C or better including English and maths was 10 percentage points higher in converter academies than in local authority schools
  • more than three-quarters of secondary academies (86%) do better than the local authority average for GCSEs compared to less than half (45%) of local authority secondaries

Schools Commissioner Frank Green - who previously ran the successful Leigh Academies Trust in Kent - said:

I want to see all schools in Derbyshire given the chance to excel. There are a number of excellent schools in the area but still too many children are not getting the outstanding education they deserve.

I would urge the best-performing schools to consider converting to an academy so they can realise their potential by becoming sponsors and help offer even more children the best start in life.

And the evidence is that even schools which have been struggling for years are being transformed when they come under the wing of inspirational sponsors - to the extent that in Derbyshire these sponsored academies now out-perform local authority schools in GCSEs.

Thursday’s event at the University of Derby will see school leaders from across Derbyshire meet heads of academy trusts to discuss the benefits of academy status.

Experienced headteacher Jenny Bexon-Smith has been appointed by Education Secretary Michael Gove as the new Regional Schools Commissioner for the area covering Derbyshire (east Midlands the Humber) to continue to improve academies. She will work with excellent academies to help them expand and will step in when pupils are not getting the education they deserve.

There are a number of excellent academies and academy trusts in and around Derbyshire. These include:

  • Shirebrook Academy, run by All Road Academy Trust. This was the first academy in Derbyshire. The proportion of pupils at the school achieving 5 or more GCSEs at C or better including English and maths jumped from 44% in 2010, while a council-run school, to 64% in 2013 - after 4 years as an academy
  • The Spencer Academies Trust has 7 open academies across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. It oversees Wyndham Primary Academy, in Derby, where results at primary tests at age 11 have jumped from just over half of pupils reaching the expected level in the 3Rs while a council-run school to 83% in its first year as an academy
  • Greenwood Dale which has 24 academies across the east Midlands including Stanground Academy, in Peterborough, which joined the trust in April 2012. The proportion of pupils there achieving 5 or more GCSEs at C or better including English and maths jumped from 39% in its last year as a council-run school to 62% in its first year as an academy

Nationally, sponsored academies improve at a faster rate than their local authority counterparts while converter academies are out-performing them.

In sponsored academies open for 3 years, the proportion of pupils that achieved 5 good GCSEs including English and maths has increased by an average of 12 percentage points since opening. Over the same time period, results in local authority maintained schools have gone up by 6 percentage points.

Academies benefit from greater freedoms to innovate and raise standards. These include:

  • freedom from local authority control
  • the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff
  • freedoms around the delivery of the curriculum
  • the ability to change the lengths of terms and school days

School performance in Derbyshire

School type Proportion achieving at least 5 GCSEs at C or better inc English and maths
Secondary sponsored academies 61.1
Secondary converter academy 66.4
Secondary LA schools 56.8

Notes to editors

  1. Frank Green took up the post of National Schools Commissioner on 1 February 2014. Previously Frank was Chief Executive of Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) for 5 years. He has a proven record of innovation and transformation as part of the school improvement process, leading three schools through to academy status. In June 2013 he was awarded a CBE for services to Education.

Frank has:

  • overseen the change to academy status of all 6 LAT schools and the rebuilding programmes of 3 of them
  • worked with a number of other academy trusts providing advice, guidance and executive leadership
  • published many articles on aspects of educational leadership and innovation, including the book ‘The headteacher in the 21st Century’

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Published 1 July 2014