Who is to blame for performance of poor pupils in academies?

Who is responsible for the shortcomings of the academy system when it comes to helping our most disadvantaged children? Tes reports.

A major analysis, published by the Sutton Trust yesterday, which shows that two-thirds of academy chains are below the national average performance for pupil premium children, criticises the impact of the regional schools commissioners (RSCs).

But how fair is it to blame the RSCs? They are certainly important players in the system.

The Department for Education introduced the eight RSCs in 2014 to make key decisions about schools in their area, including which become academies, who runs them and what happens when things go wrong.

The average RSC now has more than 1,000 academies on their patch – far more than any single local authority – but even though their resources have grown, they do not have the capacity councils once had to monitor, advise and intervene.

Moreover, in the first years of their operation, the RSCs’ biggest priority was simply converting schools to academy status, rather than the quality of education academies were offering.

The proportion of schools that are academies has doubled from 18 per cent in 2013-14 to 36 per cent today. It is a workload that academy leaders have said left the RSCs little space for detailed improvement work with their hundreds of schools.

Paradoxically, reforms introduced by education secretary Damian Hinds that have clipped the wings of the RSCs may actually allow them to concentrate more on standards over structures.

Most notably, the RSCs can no longer force schools with poor performance data to become academies. Instead, they can simply offer support to those that are either below the floor standard or classed as coasting.

Read more about RSCs and how things could get better in the future Who is to blame for performance of poor pupils in academies?

Who do you think is to blame? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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