In a wide-ranging interview, Sir David Carter said he had not changed his two main priorities – expanding the academy system and school improvement – since he was appointed in February, despite finding himself in a “different era” with a new education secretary and policy agenda. The national schools commissioner said:
- The new five-part “health check” he is developing to assess whether a MAT can expand will not be introduced until another set of trials is carried out next year. The outcome of a pilot involving 21 trusts, which finished last week, will be examined soon.
- The “mentor MAT” scheme he is developing will involve larger trusts from across the country giving advice to growing trusts, while smaller established trusts will help new trusts in their local region.
- There will be a push for trusts with five schools or fewer to grow, so they don’t become financially and educationally unsustainable.
- The number of applications for new academies and sponsors has not dried up, despite the government abandoning plans to force all schools to convert by 2022.
Sir David said another piece of work was underway to identify which interventions in underperforming schools – targeting areas such as phonics in primaries – were the most effective, so they were “not just driven by data, but by evidence of impact as well”.
“The question I want to be able to answer soon is, in a system that is national, as opposed to local, which interventions work?” he added. “And if they work really well in all eight regions, we should do more of that.”