Investigation: Another school set to close as accountability system crumbles

Problems with academisation programme come amid concerns over EBacc, Progress 8, Ofsted and plans to introduce a baseline assessment in primary schools

Tes Reporter

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Another school is set to close after the government ordered it to become an academy but could not find any academy trust that would sponsor it.

The news comes as a Tes investigation uncovers growing concerns that the targets-driven system used to hold schools to account is crumbling.

Burnt Yates Voluntary Aided Primary, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was judged “inadequate” following an Ofsted inspection in December 2016.

Under a law introduced in 2016, all maintained schools rated “inadequate” must be turned into an academy.

However, North Yorkshire County Council now plans to close the school, which has falling rolls and financial difficulties.

In its consultation document on the plans, the council said “no multi-academy trust could be found for the school”.

School 'no longer viable'

After a proposal to amalgamate with another school fell through, the regional schools commissioner decided it was no longer viable.

The move echoes the fate of two church primary schools in Surrey that are set to close because no academy trust would sponsor them, despite “inadequate” Ofsted verdicts triggering directive academy orders from the Department for Education.

A Tes investigation into the accountability system has found:

  • Schools and academy chains are starting to simply ignore the DfE’s key English Baccalaurate performance target;
  • We now have a headline secondary school performance measure – Progress 8 – that few parents have heard of, let alone understand;
  • Schools are closing because the government cannot find an academy chain that is prepared to take them after they have been judged to have failed under its accountability measures;
  • Serious questions about the validity and reliability of Ofsted judgements that determine schools’ fates may never be fully answered, according to the inspectorate’s own head of research; and
  • The recent shambolic “reform” of primary assessment looks likely to continue with experts warning that the government’s new baseline measure won’t work.

This is an edited article from the 16 March edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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