I have been approached by several constituents regarding changes to our schooling system announced in the most recent budget, predominantly regarding the move for all secondary schools to achieve academy status, and want to set out my view on this.
My understanding is that State funded City Technology Colleges (CTCs) were established in the 1980s and 1990s as independent, all-ability, non-fee paying schools for pupils aged 11-18, operating in accordance with their funding agreements and schemes of governance. They were established in urban areas with the help of private sector sponsors. Academies developed out of Conservative Governments’ CTCs. While the Coalition and Conservative Governments have encouraged all existing schools to become academies, the last Labour Government’s policy concentrated on the lowest-performing schools in deprived areas. The first academies opened in 2002, and the programme was a major part of the then Labour Government’s strategy to improve educational standards in secondary schools in disadvantaged communities and areas of poor educational performance. The Coalition Government introduced the Academies Act 2010 to enable all maintained schools to seek academy status. There are different types of academy. Some have sponsors and were set up to replace schools with a history of failing to achieve good results compared to other schools. Others are schools that have been judged to be outstanding or are performing well and have converted to academy status without a sponsor. All academies are independent of the local authority and receive their funding from central government (via the Education Funding Agency), operating in accordance with their funding agreement with the Secretary of State. As a result academies have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions.
I was pleased to hear that an extra £500m will be available to make the national funding formula work; a move which appears to have been welcomed. In light of the above, I do not feel the proposal is a cause for concern.