The Department is working to ensure that as many good and outstanding state schools as possible have the opportunity to sponsor other schools. We have created a sponsor capacity fund to ensure that just such a change can take place.
I refer my right hon. Friend to the excellent progress being made by King’s Lynn academy. Will he join me in paying tribute to the principal Craig Morrison and his team, who have put in place a new reinvigorated ethos and put real pride into the school? Is it not an excellent example of why the academies programme should be rolled out and will he join me in visiting the school in the not-too-distant future?
It is always a pleasure to visit the county of Norfolk, particularly in my hon. Friend’s company, and I would be delighted to do so. In the past, educational standards in Norfolk simply were not good enough, but as a result of the transformational leadership of academy principals, things are at last improving. I commend, for example, the work undertaken by Rachel de Souza at the Ormiston Victory academy and the work that she is extending across the whole county, particularly targeting children in the most disadvantaged parts who need our reforms most.
By April this year, 40% of Bristol pupils will be taught in academies. One of the consequences of that has been the creation of rather fragmented services in school improvement, educational welfare and so on; 75%, I think, of the academies are buying those services in from the local authority, but not all of them are. What assessment has been made of the quality of both statutory and non-statutory safeguarding provisions in academies as a result of the change?
There was fragmentation in education in Bristol, with far too many children being educated outside the city and far too many of their parents feeling that they had to be educated privately. At last, educational standards in Bristol are being turned around, not least thanks to the inspirational leadership of academy sponsors and academy leaders such as David Carter of the Cabot Learning Federation. There is no evidence that child safeguarding is taken any less seriously in academies. All the evidence is that academies, in pastoral and in educational terms, outperform other schools.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that case. I find increasingly that Members in all parts of the House are supporting free school bids. Not so long ago, the shadow Education Secretary was saying that free schools were freaky schools; now, increasingly, free schools are the schools that every Member of this House wants in their constituency.