Collaboration between academies is vital for school improvement


The dramatic rise in the number of schools choosing to become independent academies does not necessarily represent a ‘panacea  for school improvement’ and the Government should do more to encourage them to use their new found freedoms to drive up standards in the classroom, according to a report published by the Academies Commission.

Whilst noting many stunning successes, the Commission’s report concludes that driving excellence in teaching and learning particularly requires schools to focus rigorously on what’s happening in classrooms, with greater expectations around collaboration and school to school support.

The report also calls for tougher rules on admissions and a new independent appeals service, and recommends that academies be required to publish data about their admissions, so that the Office of Schools adjudicator could then act on any suggestions of inequality.

The report highlights the fact that many good and outstanding schools that have converted to academy status since 2010 have failed to deliver on pledges to offer support to other local schools, which they made in their applications to convert.

It says further collaboration between schools is essential to generate fundamental change across the school system and suggests that schools rather than local authorities should take direct responsibility for all school improvement activity, supporting one another.

To make sure that this happens, the commission recommends that Ofsted be unable to judge a school outstanding for leadership, unless it can provide evidence of its contribution to system-wide improvement, such as support for the improvement of another school.

Set up by the Pearson Think Tank and the RSA to examine the long term impact of academisation on educational outcomes, the Commission’s Report, Unleashing Greatness, argues that the Government must apply a more systematic approach towards implementing the next phase of the academies programme as well as a forensic focus on teaching quality if its transformative potential is to be truly realised.

School Leadership Today