Majority of school leaders 'feel pressure' over conversion to academy status

3rd December 2015 at 17:58
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More than 80 per cent of school leaders say that they have felt pressure about converting to academy status, according to a study.

In contrast, 59 per cent said that they actually wanted their school to become an academy, the research by school finance specialist HCSS Education shows.

The survey comes just days after Her Majesty’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw called for every school in the country to be converted to academy status, in order to shift the focus away from structures and towards improving standards instead.

The government intends to dramatically expand the number of academies in England over the next five years, with prime minister David Cameron stating that every school should become one of the state independent schools.

Ministers are expected to publish a Green Paper in the new year setting out why every school should become an academy.

Under new laws contained within the Education and Adoption Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, at least 1,000 schools rated “inadequate” by Ofsted will automatically be converted to academies.

The new legislation will also give the Department for Education the power to convert schools deemed to be “coasting”, if they are unable to show sufficient improvement.

The research shows that 82 per cent of teachers and school leaders believe that they are being pressured into converting to academy status.

A survey of staff in more than 100 schools showed that 59 per cent of respondents were against converting, with 47 per cent saying that they did not want to lose support from their local authority.

The greatest concerns around converting, however, were to do with the impact that it would have on staff, with 65 per cent saying that the workforce would be nervous of the change.

More than 40 per cent said that the main reason they would convert was because they had been forced to.

Howard Jackson, chief executive of HCSS Education, said that while many respondents understood the benefits of becoming an academy, such as greater autonomy, many were reluctant to change.

“Losing the support of the local authority is clearly daunting for schools, but how the changes will affect staff and pupils is the number one concern for most,” Mr Jackson said.

“Academisation doesn’t come without its challenges. But what is important is that both academies and maintained schools keep their focus on raising educational standards.”

Currently over 5,000 academies are open, including more than 60 per cent of secondary schools.

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