Academy Orders

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th March 2018.

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Photo of Heidi Alexander Heidi Alexander Labour, Lewisham East 12:00 am, 19th March 2018

How many schools in England subject to an academy order have not confirmed a sponsor.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

There are currently over 2,000 open sponsored academies and, as of 1 February, 92 schools subject to an academy order were in the process of being matched to a sponsor. That involves brokering a relationship between a suitable academy trust and maintained school, and includes addressing any land or contractual issues. A school not having a confirmed sponsor is generally not due to the lack of a sponsor, but because of the time it takes to address those issues.

Photo of Heidi Alexander Heidi Alexander Labour, Lewisham East

The Minister might know that my interest in this matter stems from the number of years it took his Department to resolve the situation at Sedgehill School in Lewisham, which was not able to find a sponsor and instead has agreed a three-year school improvement partnership. If the Department is struggling so much to find sponsors for academies, why is this still a central plank of the Minister’s school turnaround strategy?

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Because we are not, across the system as a whole, struggling to find new sponsors. We have 7,000 academies now, most of which are converter academies, and they themselves are becoming the sponsors of underperforming schools across the system. This system is working. Secondary sponsored academies made the strongest improvements in 2016, despite facing the biggest challenge, and compared with 2015, the average attainment 8 score for sponsored academies improved by almost three attainment points, compared with 1.3 attainment points for maintained schools. The academies programme is working and is raising standards right across the system.