Academy principals have warned that their freedoms are “under threat”, and have demanded reassurances from the main political parties that the next government will not clip their wings. About 200 academy leaders have signed a letter addressed to the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour, calling for guarantees that their "hard-won" freedoms will not be watered down. The headteachers are concerned that their schools could face greater intervention from regional school commissioners (RSCs) – the eight officials appointed last year to monitor the performance of academies and free schools across England. Academy groups have also criticised proposals from both Labour and the Lib Dems that would prevent them from hiring unqualified teachers. Last month, TES revealed that academies could be forced to sign over land to the government so that new schools can be built to tackle the shortage of pupil places. This week’s letter comes amid fresh warnings that the autonomy granted to academy leaders could be jeopardised by further changes brought in “under the radar”. It has emerged that principals of schools converting to academy status will no longer automatically become directors of the academy trust that runs the schools, which could severely reduce their influence. The Freedom and Autonomy for Schools National Association (Fasna), which represents about 1,000 “self-governing” schools, said it was “alarmed” by the “loophole”, and was -seeking legal advice. In the letter, almost 200 Fasna members demand to know if the political parties “will continue to support autonomy as a means of raising standards” in the country’s schools. According to Peter Beaven, chief executive designate of Fasna and a former head of an academy trust, the letter was prompted by mounting concerns that politicians could “restrict” academies’ freedoms.
To read more on this and other stories get the 13 March edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.
Academy land at risk in pupil places crisis – 13 February, 2015
All primary schools must become academies or risk failure, says thinktank – 23 September, 2014