England & Wales

Government academy policy could take 140 years

Government academy policy could take 140 years

DfE has today (6 December 2010) published the latest figures for its flagship academy programme. The figures do not make encouraging reading for Ministers.

The first step for a local authority school to become an academy is for the governing body to ask the Secretary of State for an Academy Order. The figures for Order requests are:

Orders requestedNumber
Up to 31 August 2010139
Additional Orders up to 7 October50
Additional Orders up to 5 November35
Additional Orders up to 3 December41

It looks like requests for Orders have stabilised at about 40 a month. At the present rate of progress, this will take 50 years for all maintained schools in England to request to become an Academy.

To be fair to the DfE, Orders are being processed fairly promptly and approvals are keeping up with requests. So that in the month up to 3 December, 40 Academy Orders were approved although many of these requests will have been lodged with the DfE in September and October.

However, the worrying fact for DfE Ministers is that only 14 schools were converted to academy status in the period up to 3 December. This means a big backlog of schools which have a Secretary of State approved Academy Order waiting to go the final hurdle to academy status. This final hurdle – the Academy Agreement – is obviously proving problematic but so far ministers have remained silent about what the problems are. The hard fact remains that on this basis, it could take 140 years for all schools to convert to academy status.

Further information about the complex conversion process can be found in the LGIU publication, Academies Act 2010: a concise guide.

If you want further information, contact John Fowler, 077 1979 5339.