THE ACADEMIES COMMISSION
Launch of new Academies Commission
Sponsored by the Cooperative and CfBT Education Trust, the Academies Commission launch on 8 May follows a rapid increase in the number of schools converting to academy status. As of 1 April, there were 1776 academies, a huge increase from the 270 or so that had been open or planned at the time of the last election. The commission is chaired by former Chief-Inspector of Schools Christine Gilbert who is joined by two other commissioners – Brett Wigdortz (CEO of Teach First) and Professor Chris Husbands (Director of the Institute of Education). The Academies Commission remit is:
The commission will examine the model and incipient outcomes of academisation from a school improvement perspective, focusing on issues of accountability, governance, due diligence, and outcomes for pupils.
It will highlight emerging trends, risks, and related questions, concentrating on public interest.
It will also draw on international examples of similar systems and cases, to inform and compare analyses.
It will not rehearse debates about the decision to develop the academies programme, but will focus on the consequences of this programme in terms of outcomes for children and young people and for the education system as a whole.
Particular attention will be given to the key issues of
a) accountability including processes via which schools are held accountable; the role of the sponsor; commissioning of services; governance; operation of local markets; due diligence (e.g. what happens when performance worsens or fails to improve under a particular sponsor or chain?)
b) educational outcomes and how to lever school improvement in an academised system, given school autonomy. With the speed of academisation exceeding all expectations, much of the debate has been retrospective with operational policy being created ‘on the hoof’. What has been notably absent, in government policy and media, think tank and academic comment, is analysis of the implications of mass academisation. What are the unique features of an entirely academised system and what impact these will have on young people’s educational outcomes? The Commission ‘will develop a practical but compelling vision for the future of UK Academisation.’ The Commission claims to ‘bring together a breadth of perspectives and a wealth of experience with Commissioners drawn from across the political spectrum, academia, private and third sectors.’ The inquiry will run for several months reporting towards the end of 2012.’
Christine Gilbert said at the launch on 8 May: “So the commission’s work will review the landscape, but with a view to looking firmly at the future rather than revisiting the past. We do not intend to rehearse debates about the decision to develop the academies programme. We are far more interested in ensuring that it delivers on its promise of a better education for every child.’
Speeches at the opening found here: