Sixty ‘orphan’ schools shunned by academy sponsors

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.”

More at: Sixty ‘orphan’ schools shunned by academy sponsors

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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Categories: Academies.


    • Governor

      It has nothing to do with making a profit. Why should any MAT pull money out of the budgets of its other schools to turn around a deficit which wasn’t of its making.
      Add to that the unrealistic expectation that every school can be turned around overnight and the risk that an otherwise successful MAT isn’t making sufficient progress in improving outcomes.
      These schools remain maintained schools and their financial and performance issues are a result of their current circumstances, not because current policy is that they should become an academy as a route out.

      • Janet Downs

        But academy trusts were promoted as altruistic organisations wanting to support state education. That’s why early sponsors were asked to donate money. This requirement was dumped by Gove because it would be an impediment to rapid academization (which was necessary to fulfil the desire to allow state schools to be run for profit – see my post re which is stuck in moderation as I write).
        Inadequate funding will result in more academies facing deficits. Early in the academization process, any deficit at a converting schools remained with the LA (but surpluses were carried forward). But this isn’t possible when an academy changes hands. The responsibility of academy trustees is limited to a nominal sum so the transferring academy trust can’t remain responsible for a deficit. So what happens? It’s either carried forward, in which case it makes it difficult to find a new sponsor, or the DfE writes off the deficit when discussing rebrokerage.
        This is one of the downsides of academization.

  1. Janet Downs

    ‘MATs are businesses at the end of the day. They want what’s best for their business’. But weren’t we told academy trusts were charities and couldn’t make a profit? That’s the official line. But it was never true. A document published by Policy Exchange before the 2010 election said all that was required to allow schools to run for profit was to make them ‘independent’. They could then outsource their operation to for-profit firms. Academies are, of course, legally ‘independent’.
    The then shadow education minister, one Michael Gove, welcomed the report and said he would allow groups like Serco to run schools if they wanted to. See here for link to YouTube clip:
    Disappointed Idealist discusses how Tories have always supported farming out state services to profit making firms here:

  2. Mark

    Ugly business, privatisation. Can completely see why these schools would be orphaned, and have a prejudiced sense that it won’t matter overly much to the authors of the policies.

  3. Governor

    Inadequate funding will result in all schools and academies facing deficits. Funding isn’t an academy specific issue. Has Easingwold, and the other ‘orphan’ schools in this article, been abandoned by their local authority? Why is that considered acceptable and not challenged? And why should that suggest this is a problem or downside to academization?
    On a commercial basis, if the deficit is to stay with the LA or be written-off by DfE as part of academization, then the deficit cannot be the issue which prevents academization.

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