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Academisation – young people first

Watch above and read below as Sue Williamson asks school leaders to ensure they keep young people at the forefront of their minds during times of structural system change.

SSAT has always been opposed to schools being forced to become anything.

We have always done our best to support schools should they wish to become academies, and we’re also of the belief that schools can be exceptionally successful without converting to academy status.

The recent announcement by the government that all maintained schools must be in the process of becoming an academy by 2020 means that schools must be thinking about the changes ahead.

We suggest that schools think hard about their principles – the principles that are non-negotiable and that will help determine what kind of academy they want to be.

Academies that are already part of a multi-academy trust (MAT) and either invite other academies into their setup, or are asked to take over another academy, must treat their core principles as guiding lights when doing so. This is crucial to the success of any new arrangement.

We suggest that schools think hard about their principles – the principles that are non-negotiable and that will help determine what kind of academy they want to be.

There is too much of a focus on structures. Schools are about young people and if the valuable time of the country’s headteachers is given primarily to thinking about academisation, it could have an adverse effect on student success.

My preference would have been for time to be given to a process of research that proves academy conversion actually leads to improved school performance, and the schools to then work to a timeline of conversion suitable to them.

However, we have to be pragmatic – start your thinking now. But don’t forget that schools are about young people and we must focus on their success.


Read A pragmatic approach to academisation.

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