The Academies programme3 was first introduced by the Labour government in September 2002, with the stated aim of improving the educational outcomes of some of the most disadvantaged pupils in English secondary schools. The crucial defining feature of Academies is that they are ‘outside the control of local authorities’, and are typically set up in some of the most disadvantaged areas of England.
This CEP Policy Analysis, published in July by Professor Stephen Machin, and James Vernoit describes the contrasting characteristics of existing Academy schools and schools that have recently expressed an interest in Academy status. The publication is summarised below and can be found in full on the CEP Policy Analysis Site.
The new policy briefing, A Note on Academy School Policy, recently published, finds that:
The Academies programme set up under the Labour government, beginning in 2002, has so far given Academy status to 203 English secondary schools. These schools were more significantly disadvantaged in terms of pre-Academy GCSE attainment, free school meal, special educational needs and ethnic minority status.
The new coalition government has written to all headteachers asking if they are interested in Academy status, to which 1560 schools have responded positively. Schools that have expressed an interest, contrary to the current Academies, are characterised by having a more advantaged pupil population (lower free school meal, special educational needs and ethnic minority status) and superior GCSE attainment.
If it follows the expression of interest route to awarding Academy status to schools, the new coalition government’s policy on Academy Schools is not, like the previous government’s policy, targeted on schools with more disadvantaged pupils. The serious worry that follows is that this will exacerbate already existing educational inequalities.
Click here to download the full paper.