Speed commission into the ‘total academisation’ of schools announced by RSA and Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning
A new commission is set to examine the implications of the ‘mass academisation’ of state schools and the impact this might have on educational outcomes.
Announced today by the RSA, the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning, together with current sponsors for the commission – the Cooperative and CfBT Education Trust, the commission follows a rapid increase in the number of schools converting to academy status with numbers swelling from 200 to 1635 since the coalition government came to power.
The commission will be chaired by former Chief-Inspector of Schools Christine Gilbert who will be joined by two other commissioners – Brett Wigdortz (CEO of Teach First) and Professor Chris Husbands (Director of the Institute of Education).
Commenting on the launch, Chair of the commission Christine Gilbert said:
“The rapid expansion of academies is fundamental to the coalition government’s education policies. This represents major structural change to the English school system but little has been done to explore the implications and impact of this expansion. We intend the work of the commission to be a constructive contribution to the debate on academy policy and practice, in particular to the impact of academisation on school improvement and on young people’s learning and achievement.”
The commission’s terms of reference will be set over the coming few weeks but 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.
Adam Lent, Director of Programme at the RSA, said
“Because commissions can take years to report, they often focus only on the most overarching questions and even then sometimes miss their moment. So, RSA Speed Commissions will get leading experts to take an intensive look at the more immediate issues confronting Politicians with the aim of reporting in no more than nine months. There are few more pressing concerns in government now than how to make the academies programme really work for kids and parents, so this is a perfect topic for our first Speed Commission.”
Professor Becky Francis, Director of the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning, who will head up the Commission Secretariat, said
“This commission may be quick but it will be determinedly rigorous. We are delighted to have commissioners with the depth and breadth of knowledge displayed by Christine, Chris and Brett but we will also put in place a comprehensive research and consultancy programme to draw in as many views and as much expert evidence as possible. This will be the first detailed attempt to understand what the education sector and the wider public really thinks must be done to make the rapid rise of academies work for pupils.”