Academies without parents on boards ‘risk community rejection’

Academy schools risk being rejected by local communities if their management is remote and motivated more by rapid growth than improvement, according to a report by the body representing school governors. The Guardian reports.

The report by the National Governors Association (NGA) warns that the lack of parent representation on the boards of schools run by multi-academy trusts (Mats) has created a “democratic deficit”, made worse by the trusts attempting to improve their financial position by taking over more schools.

“The evolution and promotion of Mats without sufficient thought to governance has produced a [democratic] deficit that requires debate, one that must not be ignored any longer,” the report states.

Sam Henson, NGA’s director of policy and one of the report’s authors, said there was still scepticism towards academies, driven by media reports of high-profile cases of mismanagement, such as the Wakefield City academies trust collapse last year and the “zombie schools” given up by the Mats that previously managed them.

Henson said trusts needed to be more transparent to avoid their negative image. Some were already willing to include representatives of parents on governing boards.

“When we’re talking about trusts with 30 or 40 schools, and a trust being run by just three or four people in its top tier of management, then that is concentrating a lot of power and responsibility in a small group of people,” Henson said. “There’s also a danger that trusts will have difficulty in gaining the confidence of a school’s community because some of them are so geographically dispersed.”

The report said: “NGA’s evidence demonstrates that some trusts simply grow in order to shore up their finances … however expansion does not guarantee improvements, or even guarantee a more financially sustainable future.”

Theo Agnew, the schools minister in the Lords, said the NGA’s report showed that good governance was crucial to improving school standards. “Strong governance should be at the heart of every multi-academy trust. This ensures leaders are supported and effectively challenged. The rising academic standards that many multi-academy trusts are helping to deliver is testament to the good governance already in place,” Lord Agnew said.

Read the full article Academies without parents on boards ‘risk community rejection’ 

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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