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More autonomy turned out to be mere rhetoric

The rise of academies promised more power for schools – but, with government still clinging to the reins, heads haven’t been able to raise standards as expected. However, this system may yet deliver – if ministers ring the changes, writes James Croft

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The Academies Act of 2010 purported to take school autonomy to a new level. The jury is still out on whether this could make a difference for pupil outcomes, but doubts have, justifiably, begun to emerge.

While there is evidence of a positive impact in pre-2010 sponsored academies, recent research from the London School of Economics finds no trace of post-conversion improvement in previously “good”, “satisfactory” or “inadequate” converters, as well as a concerning degree of heterogeneity.

Meanwhile, the reality seems to be dawning on headteachers that the new autonomy promised does not ...

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