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News - 10 January 2013

Social Segregation and Academy Schools

A new report by the Academies Commission says some academies may "covertly" select pupils by using extra information on families or holding social events with prospective parents, and that all academies should publish socio-economic data about who applies and who is offered a place.

The report states that it has received evidence that some schools attempt to select and exclude pupils. It says that, while this practice is not new, the fact that academies have greater autonomy over their admissions has "attracted controversy and fuelled concerns that the growth of academies may entrench rather than mitigate social inequalities".
All state schools must abide by an admissions code, which obliges them to admit pupils in a fair way.

Peter Ham, Auditor and Head of Schools and Charities at ABDS comments:
“The admissions code says that schools cannot interview children or parents, or give priority to children whose parents offer financial or practical support. However, the report says the rise in the number of academies - 2,309 at the start of this academic year, up from 203 in May 2010 - could see further admissions injustices”

The commission calls on the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to develop a system for admissions which allows parents "some independent recourse in terms of their relationship with an individual school, or each academy trust, acting as its own admissions authority".

The Academies Commission report also suggests the role of school governors in academies is becoming even more important and needs "greater attention", and that the recruitment of chairs of governors need to be "far more professional and rigorous", with positions being advertised.

The Academies Commission was set up by the Pearson Think Tank and the RSA charity to examine the implications of the "mass academisation" of state schools.

What are Academies?

  • Academies are independent, state-funded schools, which receive their funding directly from central government
  • They were originally brought in by Labour in a bid to improve struggling schools, primarily in deprived areas.
  • The policy has been altered and accelerated by the coalition government
  • All primary and secondary schools are now invited to convert to academy status, but priority is given to those deemed by watchdog Ofsted to be "outstanding" or "performing well"
  • Education Secretary Michael Gove says academies will drive up standards by putting more power in the hands of head teachers
  • There were 2,456 academies open in England, as of November 2012
  • The number has grown dramatically under the coalition government, from 203 in May 2010

If you need any help and advice with Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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