Half of academy leaders in England believe the freedoms associated with their school status have had either no effect or a negative impact in the classroom, according to a poll.
The findings are a damning indictment of the Government’s decision to dramatically expand the academies programme as a central part of its school improvement policy.
Academies have greater control over their curriculum, school budgets, admissions and teachers’ pay than other state-funded schools. They are also funded directly by Whitehall rather than through the local authority. No effect Since 2010, the Government has pushed to convert every state school to academy status, with well over half of all secondary schools now academies.
But a survey by the National Foundation for Educational Research on behalf of social mobility charity the Sutton Trust showed that 48 per cent of academy leaders believed their academy freedoms were worthless. In all 1,246 teachers and school leaders were questioned, and of the sample of 143 academy leaders, 30 per cent said their powers had “no effect” in the classroom, while 18 per cent said they had a “negative effect”.
Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust, said the polling revealed that academy leaders were “sceptical” about the benefits of their academy freedoms. “The focus should not be on school structures but on improving the quality of teaching in schools. The evidence shows overwhelmingly that improving quality of teaching is the key to boosting standards for all pupils and disadvantaged pupils in particular.”
The research also showed that 39 per cent of teachers and leaders said their school was forced to cut teaching staff in a bid to cut costs.