Academy trusts are "charities that are run to give children a better future" rather than organisations with business interests, a schools’ leader will say today.
The Confederation of School Trusts’ chief executive Leora Cruddas will launch a defence of academies today by claiming England’s state schools are living through an “education renaissance” driven by charitable trusts.
She will tell the CST's spring conference, in London, that trusts run schools in which 50 per cent of children are now taught.
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Ms Cruddas will say these trusts have at their heart a “core charitable purpose to advance education for the public benefit – to make children and young people’s lives better”.
But she will warn that the narrative about academy trusts has become “dominated by those who want to believe the motive is about business interest.”
Tes has also revealed concerns about a controversial behavioural policy at Outwood Grange Academies Trust called “flattening the grass”.
However, Ms Cruddas will say it is time to celebrate that “academy trusts are education charities that run schools to give children a better future”, adding that academies are like any other state school – free to attend, inspected in the same way, and with their children taking the same tests and exams.
She will say that in some other countries, such as the Netherlands and Canada, the fact that schools are organised into “strong and sustainable groups” is considered “normal”.
“Trusts are groups of schools working in collaboration as one entity to improve and maintain high educational standards across the group,” Ms Cruddas will say.
“They improve their children’s education by sharing ideas and expertise with each other. They help their local communities thrive by giving children the best opportunities to learn inside and outside the classroom.”
She will also highlight how academy trusts can work together on areas such as curriculum, assessment and behaviour.
Ms Cruddas will add: “They offer structured career pathways for teachers, supported by high-quality professional development so teachers and leaders learn together.
“We are contributing to creating a great education system and making a better world. We are living through an education renaissance – a re-birth of a conversation about ethics, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment – and how education charities that run schools are the enablers of these most important professional conversations.
“There is an energy in education now that I have not felt for many years – a sense of optimism about what can be achieved.”
The CST rebranded itself last year from its previous identity as The Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association (Fasna).