Good schools are vital to our individual and collective wellbeing and prosperity, and are vital for the foundation of a fair and cohesive society. Strong schooling enables us to cope with the uncertainties of life, develop our potential, and extend our opportunities. Good schools also work to correct underlying inequalities, and to advance other shared social and economic objectives.

The Academies Commission is a major inquiry into whether the increasing academisation of our schools advances these goals. It follows a rapid increase in the number of schools converting to academy status with numbers swelling from 203 to 2,619 (January 2013) since the coalition government came to power.

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 Academies commission will broadly examine:

  • The implications of complete academisation for school improvement and pupil attainment
  • How improvement and attainment can best be secured within an academised system
  • The model and incipient outcomes from a school improvement perspective, focusing on issues of accountability, due diligence, and outcomes for pupils.
  • Emerging trends, risks, and related questions, concentrating on public interest.

The Commission will develop a practical but compelling vision for the future of UK Academisation.  Chaired by Christine Gilbert, the Commission brings 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 9 months reporting towards the end of 2016.



The Academies Commission Report, ‘Unleashing Greatness: Getting the best from an academised system‘, published on 10th January, 2016. Download report here.

Launch of the Academies Commission final report, RSA, 10/01/2013; 18:00
Listen to full recording including audience Q&A from RSA Events here (to download audio file onto your computer, please right-click link and choose “Save Link As…” )
Watch the edited highlights of the event on this RSA Public Events Programme page.

Articles and blog posts:

Prof Chris Husbands, IOE London Blog, 14/01/2013
If knowledge in education is sticky, how do we get it unstuck and flowing?

Prof Becky Francis, The Pearson Think Tank blog, 17/01/2013
Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

Christine Gilbert, GovToday, 21/01/2013
Creating successful Academies


Our press release is available here.

Responses to the report:

Anti Academies Alliance

Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS)

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)

Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)


Education for Liberation


National Union of Teachers (NUT)

SSAT (The Schools Network)

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary

Media Coverage:

Financial Times, 09/01/2013
Success of new academies as yet unproved

Accord Coalition, 10/01/2013
Debate over segregation in schools should not overlook growing religious segregation, cautions Accord

BBC Breakfast, 10/01/2013

BBC News, 10/01/2013
Academies could ‘fuel social segregation’

BBC News, 10/01/2013
Some academies in England ‘covertly’ selecting pupils (video)

BBC Radio 4, Today Programme, 10/01/2013
Christine Gilbert, Commission Chair, and Bill Watkin, operational director for academies at SSAT, discuss potential improvements to the academies system.

Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, 10/01/2013
Unleashing Inequality

Channel 4 News, 10/01/2013
Academies ‘covertly select’ privileged pupils

Conservative Home, 10/01/2013
Academy schools are breaking down social segregation not fueling it

Disability News Service, 10/01/2013
Report suggests spread of academies is undermining inclusion

Education Investor, 10/01/2013
Government should improve academy accountability

King’s College London, 10/01/2013
Academies report published

Modern Governor, 10/01/2013
Governors’ Role in Academies Needs “Greater Attention”

Public Finance, 10/01/2013
Academy schools must select fairly

The Guardian, 10/01/2013
Academies report disguises the damage they are doing to British schools

The Guardian, 10/01/2013
Academies use covert selection methods to skew intake

The Guardian, 10/01/2013
School academies: not all good, or all bad – but all in need of a helping hand

The Huffington Post UK, 10/01/2013
Academies Manipulating Admissions To Exclude Poorer Pupils

The Independent, 10/01/2013
Academies ‘flout admissions rules to select privileged pupils’

The New Statesman: The Staggers, 10/01/2013
How academies covertly select pupils

The Northern Echo, 10/01/2013
Criticism of academies ‘one-sided’ says principal

The Telegraph, 10/01/2013
Academies accused of cherry picking middle-class pupils

The Telegraph Blog: News – Education, 10/01/2013
Contrary to ‘exclusive’ reports in the press, the Tories don’t have any plans to privatise state education

The Times, 10/01/2013
Strip councils of schools power

Independent Schools Council (ISC) blog, 11/01/2013
Collabetition, anyone?

Institute of Education (IOE), University of London, 11/01/2013
Local authorities should be ‘children’s champions’ under an academised school system, says IOE director

NAHT Blog: Education Otherwise – Susan Young, 11/01/2013
Academies, improving the system, and a much-misquoted report

TES, 11/01/2013
Academy status is ‘not a panacea’, experts warn

TES, 11/01/2013
From The Editor – An unfinished revolution in the reign of timidity

SecEd, 16/01/2013
Commission highlights covert selection practices and a lack of transparency in some academies

Socialist Educational Association (SEA) blog, 16/01/2013
Does the Academies Commission provide a new agenda for schools?

TES, 18/01/2013
Why do some feel the need to segregate?

Montrose42′ Blog, 20/01/2013
Collaboration and Interdependence – Is this the key to improve our education system?

edapt, Blog, 21/01/2013
A glimmer of hope from the Academies Commission?

The Guardian, 21/01/2013
Schools work best when they work together

REOnline, 22/01/2013
Unleashing Greatness and RE

Innovation Unit, Blog, 23/01/2013
Why schools need a dating service

Local Schools Network, 23/01/2013
Innovation is inhibited by league tables not by lack of freedom says Commission

Guardian, Teacher Network, 24/01/2013
Academy schools: a flawed system that cannot be sustained

The National Foundation for Educational Research, 31/01/2013
Ways to unleash greatness: key tools for all schools

Twitter @acadcomm #acadcomm

For a selection of tweets discussing the Academies Commission report, please click here.

To view the twitter conversation at the report launch event at the RSA, please click here.

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