Academies can opt out of the national curriculum but few have done so. Heads and governors worry about how inspectors will view changes in their curriculum, and should their results take a downward dive , they have no place to hide. One of the main criticisms levelled at Ofsted, by Heads ,is that inspectors are not entirely consistent, reliable or predictable, in their judgments, so playing around with the curriculum ,in this context, becomes something of a risk management exercise. In short, is it worth the risk?
DFE online surveys of academies and free schools asked the extent to which (if at all) they intended to follow the new national curriculum in September 2014, for a number of subjects.
Figure 13 of the report called “Do academies make use of their autonomy?” provides the data for academies. The overall conclusion of the research was that the a large majority of academies are planning to follow the national curriculum to some extent or a great extent in all subjects and particularly in English and mathematics where only 1 per cent do not plan to do so. The report is published online at:
Figure 3 of the report called “Are free schools using innovative approaches?” provides the data for free schools. The overall conclusion is similar to that for academies with a large majority of free schools planning to follow the national curriculum in all the subjects that they offer and all planning to do so in English and mathematics. The report is published online at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/innovative-thinking-within-free-schools