Government's flagship academies are ‘failing to help weaker schools,’ says select committee report

Schools judged to be 'outstanding' can convert to academy status, but are expected to commit to supporting at least one weaker school in return

The Government’s flagship academies are failing in their duty to help struggling schools improve, according to a report out today.

MPs on the influential Commons select committee on education say they have received “overwhelming evidence” schools are only “paying lip-service” to their requirements.

After Education Secretary Michael Gove announced his plans for an expansion of the academies programme through allowing “outstanding” schools to convert to academy status, the Government said: “We will expect every school judged by Ofsted (the education standards watchdog) to be outstanding or good with outstanding features which converts into an academy to commit to supporting at least one weaker school in return for academy status.”

However,  today’s report says: “During this inquiry, we received overwhelming evidence that converter academies are not living up to this expectation and pulling their weight when it comes to other schools.

“One submission suggested that many only ‘paid lip service to this requirement’ and another argued that converter academies were ‘working in isolation’.”

The MPs say the Government should “urgently review” the way it monitors the expectation - including conducting surveys of the schools that had been promised the support of neighbouring academies.

In addition, the MPs want to see Ofsted given the power to inspect academy chains - which can be responsible for running dozens of academies. At present, while they can inspect local authorities - who may have lost control of their schools to academy status - they have no right to inspect academy chains.

Chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told MPs: “We will be inspecting local authorities and we should inspect academy chains as well, if we identify under-performance.

“I have made that clear to the Secretary of State.  It is only fair and equitable that we do that.”

However, the committee was told the Government “would rather Ofsted focused on its other activities, which are extensive”. Inspecting academy chains would not “give us any information we do not have materially at the moment”.

A spokesman for the Department for Education added: “Hundreds of schools are now collaborating on a scale never witnessed before - brilliant heads and teachers are working together ... raising standards for their pupils.

Kevin Brennan, Labour’s schools spokesman, said the report was a “damning indictment of David Cameron’s schools policy” which was driving competition between schools instead of partnerships.

Meanwhile, Mr Gove has overruled a suggestion that he should reign in his programme for forcing under-performing schools to become academies. Civil servants planning budget cuts suggested ministers should consider value for money before taking decisions.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Ministers are clear we will not stand by when a school is failing its pupils and that the strong support of a proven sponsor is the best way to see rapid and sustainable improvements.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this secondary s...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day