Press release

Schools Commissioner calls for more academies in Essex

The Schools Commissioner asks Essex schools to consider converting to academy status to raise standards.

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


The Schools Commissioner for England today called on more excellent schools to consider academy status to further boost the standard of education in Essex.

Frank Green, who ran a highly successful chain of academies for 5 years, is in Colchester this morning (Wednesday) to meet heads and governors from the county to discuss the merits of becoming an academy - and to encourage existing academies to take the next step and become academy sponsors to help transform other, weaker schools.

Figures show how Essex County Council and schools in the county have embraced the government’s academy programme - to the benefit of their pupils.

As of May 2014 there were more than 3,800 academies across England. In Essex there are 137 open academies with primary academies making up 16% of all primary schools in the county and secondary academies making up 83% of all secondary schools. Both are among the highest proportions in England.

Mr Green’s visit comes as latest figures show how academies in Essex are driving up education standards in the county:

  • 77% of academies are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted
  • just 1% are rated inadequate by Ofsted
  • just 1% of academy schools are currently below the floor at either key stage 2 or 4

Headteachers at a number of existing academies are also leading the way in using their expertise to improve standards elsewhere.

Rated outstanding by Ofsted, the Burnt Mill Academy in Harlow converted to an academy in December 2011 and has since sponsored 4 primary schools. The 4 primary schools are Freshwaters Primary Academy, Roydon Primary School, Spinney Junior School and Little Parndon Primary School.

Also rated outstanding (in 2009), Lyons Hall School in Braintree converted in April 2012 and has developed the Learning Pathway Trust, which is now sponsoring another school, White Hall Academy, boosting its overall performance. White Hall Academy’s predecessor, Coppins Green Primary School, was last inspected in October 2011 and rated as inadequate and given a notice to improve. But in 2013, 65% of pupils at White Hall Academy achieved at least the expected level (level 4) in the 3 Rs - an improvement of 10 percentage points from 2012.

And at the Greensward Academy in Hockley, also rated outstanding by Ofsted, the school operates a 5-term year. The 8-week terms are followed by 2-week breaks and a 5-week summer holiday. The school says pupils benefit from a regular learning pattern and that terms of even length raises standards. The proportion of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs A* to C including English and maths has risen from 60% in 2008 to 75% in 2013.

Schools Commissioner Frank Green said:

I want to see all schools in Essex achieving the very best for their pupils. I have seen first-hand a number of brilliant schools here - but there are still cases where children are not getting the first class education they deserve.

I would urge excellent schools to consider becoming academy sponsors so they can realise their potential, share their knowledge and ensure more pupils get the best possible start in life.

Tim Coulson, Essex County Council Director for Commissioning: Education and Lifelong Learning, said:

Today’s event is about celebrating academic success in Essex schools and will give schools in the county the opportunity to hear from high-performing academies how they have transformed and improved their standards.

Receiving a good education is critically important and by sharing expertise among our teaching profession we hope to continue to drive up improvements across the county.

The event at Weston Homes football stadium is hosted by Essex County Council and includes talks from the Schools Commissioner and headteachers from across the region. Speakers will highlight the benefits of academies working together and sharing governance.

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

Notes to editors

  1. Frank Green was appointed Schools Commissioner in 2014. He was previously chief executive of Leigh Academies Trust, a chain of 6 academies in Kent. The 3 secondary academies have an average of 67% 5 A* to C, including English and maths, having all been below 30% prior to becoming academies. Mr Green has also worked as a classroom teacher and as a head.
  2. For more information about the event please contact Essex County Council press office on: 0333 013 6148
  3. For more information about academies or to speak to Frank Green please use the contact details below.

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Published 4 June 2014