The Guardian is reporting on a number of orphan schools that have been unable to find a sponsor since failing inspections.
Easingwold is one of 60 “orphan” schools that, at least six months after a failed inspection, still have no certainty over who will be running them. In 12 cases, two years have passed since a failed inspection, without a sponsor being found.
But Easingwold is one of a seemingly growing number of schools where difficulties getting an academy sponsor seem to be leading to protracted delays. Critics say the transition process may have an extra layer of complexity compared with the days when the local authority retained responsibility throughout.
Meanwhile in Birmingham, Baverstock comprehensive, once lauded by John Major, took on academy status in 2013 but is now in special measures and has a financial deficit. It is lined up for closure as parents were told no academy trust would take on its finances.
Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, says: “In a marketised system, academy sponsors will refuse to take on schools which are in difficult circumstances. We have raised the issue with the government as to what happens to these struggling schools. We get no answer. It is a huge hole in the government’s policy.”
A consultant who works for academy chains, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some trusts have worked with disadvantaged communities but were finding themselves under pressure from the government over results, while all were facing tight budgets. He said: “When you are thinking about whether a project is going to be viable, the killer concern is money. MATs just can’t take risks with that, and when you add in the reputational risk of taking on a school in a tough area, it’s not a good equation.”
MATs are businesses at the end of the day. They want what’s best for their business. Why doesn’t the government have an answer to what happens to the struggling schools? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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