SSAT’s first survey into the impact and effectiveness of academisation, Plan A+, was carried out between December 2011 and February 2012. Since that time, the educational landscape has changed drastically; the pace, scope and scale of change in education over recent months has been significant. This latest survey, conducted by SSAT in partnership with Reform, demonstrates that despite such upheaval, academies continue to value collaboration, innovation and school-led system improvement: all of which are core to SSAT’s mission.
Respondents indicated that academy status is clearly a very significant lever for innovation, change and improvement. Academies are characterised by better relationships with other schools and stakeholders; they continue to serve the children in their communities, taking students with similar academic and socio-economic backgrounds, and they are determined to use their autonomies to raise standards. And they are increasingly conscious of their role in working with more vulnerable schools to support improved outcomes for all children beyond their own walls.
Nine out of ten academy principals would recommend academy status. The autonomy brings additional responsibilities, but is important in empowering school leaders to make the right decisions for the school, its pupils and its community, and for developing the role of the academy principal as a system leader. It is true that the additional reporting and accountability requirements that accompany academy freedoms are perceived by some, particularly in smaller schools, to be a burden and to redirect attention away from teaching and learning. But in most schools there is recognition that autonomy and accountability must go hand-in-hand. This survey makes clear that academy leaders are making more and more use of academy status and that the emphasis is still very much on school to school collaboration and on the children.
The full report, with commentary by operational director SSAT, Bill Watkin, can be accessed here.