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All primary schools into academy chains by 2020?

The Policy Exchange think tank has released its report on the development of Primary Schools. 

The report suggests that despite the improvements in the primary sector over the past decade, the government is keen to improve still further. To this end, the Key Stage 2 floor standards have been increased from 2016 and a new National Curriculum and assessment systems have been introduced. At the same time the support infrastructure for primary schools is likely to be reduced. Namely, local authorities’ services are likely to diminish following budget restraints and secondary school academy uptake, and there is a lack of replacements for retiring primary headteachers.

The report suggests that the sector cannot manage the scale of change required to deliver the required upgrade in floor standards without building “capacity and capability”.

It explores three options:

  1. Keep (most) primary schools under LA operation as a support mechanism (and even potentially bring other primary schools back under the LA oversight).
  2. Continue to encourage primaries to become standalone or grouped Academies on a demand led basis, as currently happens.
  3. Make an active policy decision to proactively group all primary schools into Academy chains, in order to ensure 100 per cent coverage and build capacity in the sector.

Ultimately the report recommends the third option, concluding:

that the reorganisation of all primary schools into academy chains by 2020 – as determined by each primary school themselves – presents the only viable opportunity for the sector to mitigate against the risk of mass failure. “

It recommends that all maintained primaries are only allowed become academies as part of a formal academy chain; that local authorities be allowed to set up and run their own chains; and finally that all remaining secondary schools should also become academies to avoid the complications of a dual system.

Clearly the think tank’s view point is contentious, the NUT having already voiced its concerns over the content.

Source: The Policy Exchange| Primary Focus| The next stage of improvement for primary schools in England |September 2014