Department for Education written question – answered at on 13 May 2024.

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Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Independent, Fylde

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the role that academy trusts in improving (a) educational standards and (b) school facilities.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

High quality academy trusts have been a key vehicle in improving educational standards. They have facilitated better collaboration, directed resources to where they are needed most, and enabled the best leaders to support a greater number of schools. As of 1 April, over 50% of all state-funded schools are academies.

As of December 2023, 90% of schools were rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, compared to 68% in 2010. There is also evidence that high quality trusts have improved underperforming schools via the sponsored academies programme. Departmental analysis has demonstrated that, on average, sponsored schools improve more quickly than equivalent local authority maintained schools. More than seven out of ten sponsored academies which were found to be underperforming as a local authority maintained school in their previous inspection now have a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating.

Academy trusts work with their school’s day to day to meet their responsibilities to keep buildings safe, well maintained and compliant with relevant regulations. The department supports them by providing significant capital funding, rebuilding programmes and support and guidance.

The department has allocated £17 billion to improve the condition of the school estate since 2015, including £1.8 billion for the 2024/25 financial year. This is informed by consistent data on the condition of the school estate. In addition, the School Rebuilding Programme is transforming buildings at over 500 schools across England.

The department also provides extensive guidance to help academy trusts and other responsible bodies to maintain their estates safely and effectively, such as through Good Estate Management for Schools. The department has also published a new estate management competency framework, which sets out the skills and knowledge needed in different roles to manage school estates.

Where there are serious issues with buildings that cannot be managed independently by responsible bodies, the department provides additional advice and support on a case by case basis.

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