The short answer is Yes they are.
Over a fifth (22%) received support from academies from a different trust to their own
Almost all academies rated as outstanding support other schools
A key aim of the education reforms is to increase the level of interaction between schools. Effective collaboration between schools and groups of schools is seen as the best way to improve student outcomes and teachers’ professional development. Academies are expected to provide school-to-school support and there is some evidence that this is happening, at least according to recent DFE research.
The research looks at how academies are using their autonomy to improve outcomes. The research states ‘The level of support offered by academies to other schools is one of the most prominent findings from the research. The vast majority of converter academies have started to support schools which there were not before conversion.’
One of the reasons academies join Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) is to formalise the support they give and receive. As would be expected, those in MATs are more likely to offer a wider range of support to other schools. But, and this is key,’ there is evidence of academies in MATs supporting not only the schools in their trust but also standalone schools and even academies in other MATs.’
Those receiving support were asked from where it came. It is interesting to note that although 60 per cent of academies in a MAT receiving support do so from others in their MAT, over a fifth (22%) received support from academies from a different trust to their own. Half of those in a MAT which were receiving support had done so from other partner academies. This suggests that MATs are not working in isolation from the rest of the local school system, and are actively working together to lead school improvement.
Academies are not feeling constrained by geographical boundaries in the way some reported in the survey that they once did, and some are reporting being able to work with like-minded schools from different areas.
This collaboration is felt to be helping to improve the education for pupils in the schools and academies involved. 87 per cent of academies support other schools (and, significantly 72 per cent support schools they did not support before becoming academies). Almost all academies rated outstanding by Ofsted support other schools (96 per cent).
Almost three quarters (72 per cent) offer joint practice development (e.g. lesson study). Other support offered includes developing middle leadership (57 per cent), running CPD courses (56 per cent) and boosting senior leadership capacity (44 per cent). Just over a third have deployed an SLE, LLE or NLE (39 per cent) and 38 per cent have seconded teachers or leaders into other schools.
There are some differences between the support offered by type and phase of academy.
Converters were more likely to deploy an SLE, LLE or NLE (42 per cent compared to 20 per cent of sponsored) and more likely to review governance (24 per cent compared to 15 per cent of sponsored).Primary schools were more likely to offer joint practice development (77 per cent compared to 70 per cent of secondaries). Secondary schools
are more likely to offer a wide range of support especially development of future/middle leadership and deploying an SLE/LLE/NLE. (pg 39 )
Do Academies make use of their autonomy? DFE-July 2014