The Independent is reporting that the Department for Education did not pay enough attention to scrutiny checks in a rush to convert large numbers of schools into academies, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has found.
MPs said they were concerned about a lack of clear direction from the government on converting schools to academies – as well as the levels of support available to struggling schools.
The Department for Education’s (DfE) arrangements for oversight of schools are “fragmented and incoherent” which has led to “inefficiency for government and confusion for schools”, report says.
It comes after a number of failed academy chains – including Wakefield City Academies Trust – encountered major problems that left parents worried about their pupils’ future.
Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “Government’s haste in pushing ahead with academisation has come at a cost, with high-profile failures indicating significant weaknesses in its assessment regime.”
She added: “We are also concerned about how the stated aim of academisation – to drive up educational standards – is panning out in practice. There is a risk that pupils at poorly performing and smaller schools, less attractive to academy trusts, will be left behind.”
Roy Perry, vice chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said the government needed to recognise the key role that councils can play in school improvement and place planning.
“It is only by working with councils and giving them the necessary powers, rather than shutting them out, that we can meet the challenges currently facing the education system,” he said.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said “The scale of academy trust failures has been shocking and the PAC is right to highlight that children’s education has paid the heaviest price, along with taxpayers who have had to pick up the significant costs of academy re-brokering.”
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