Academy chains are expected to be given new incentives to take on failing schools, under plans for a 100 per cent academised system due to be announced by ministers this week.
A source told TES that the proposals would “make it easier for schools to go into chains”. They added that “it will encourage [academy chains] them to take on more difficult cases that might have financial or Ofsted problems”.
A commitment to making all state-funded schools independent of local authority control is expected to be announced by chancellor George Osborne in tomorrow’s budget speech; alongside funding to support the change.
More details are due to follow in a Department for Education White Paper on Thursday, which is expected to outline the blueprint for an all academy system.
Changes to the admissions system are also on the cards. As TES reported this month, ministers have been considering reforms that would hand back some of academies’ admissions powers to local authorities.
Sources say that schools are likely to be asked to draw up their own plans to become academies rather than be subjected to instant forced academisation.
But heads are warning that a move to 100 per cent academisation will create “significant” risks for primary schools, which may not have enough resources to take on the new responsibilities that come with academy status.
Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the ASCL school leaders’ union, told TES: “There’s a big difference between secondary schools becoming fully academised and [full academisation] in the primary sector, simply because of the scale and also the capacity, particularly of small primary schools, to be able to handle everything that’s required.You can’t push them quickly in that direction.”
Mr Trobe said secondary schools were “in a reasonably strong position to be able to move in that direction” but that for primary schools, “the risk of having significant issues around capacity would be quite significant.”
“Can they handle all the additional duties they’ve picked up as an academy, have they got enough people, have they got the skillsets to do what’s required in terms of running an academy?” he said.