All schools should join strong multi-academy trusts

The Education Secretary has stated his ambition to bring schools with a history of long-term underperformance into multi-academy trusts.

In his speech to the Confederation of School Trusts annual conference, Gavin Williamson said the government’s vision is for the school system to continue to move towards a single model built on strong multi-academy trusts as its foundation, rather than the current ‘pick-and-mix system’ of local authority maintained and standalone academy schools.

The Department for Education stated that the pandemic has brought to the fore the benefits of strong multi-academy trusts in providing outstanding support for both children and staff, through their collaborative approach and being able to pool resources and knowledge.

All schools will now have the option to ‘try the academy experience before they buy’ – associating with multi-academy trusts for a defined period to experience the benefits for themselves and their students, with no commitment.

Further new interventions to encourage and support schools to join a strong multi-academy trust include an expanded £24 million fund, due to launch in May, to develop more, and grow existing strong multi-academy trusts, providing more capacity for trusts to take on and support schools converting into academies

Updated guidance for trusts and prospective academy converters, published today, which sets out how strong trusts improve educational outcomes, how local authority schools can convert and the support they can expect to receive

A pilot programme, in partnership with the Church of England and Catholic Church, to set up new faith academy trusts, as well as a new turnaround trust to support Catholic schools in need of intensive support is also to be implemented.

Williamson said: "I know from my own experience, that when parents set out to choose a school for their child, they want something very simple – a Good or Outstanding school with excellent teaching, in a wider school environment that supports their child to fulfil their potential. And this is exactly what parents can expect when their child’s school is part of a strong multi-academy trust. The vast majority of Requires Improvement or Inadequate schools that become an academy and join a trust go on to be rated at least Good the next time they are inspected.

"That is why I am determined to finish what we started and end the pick-and-mix approach to school types, building back fairer from the pandemic to make sure every parent has the certainty that their child is at a school that is backed by a strong trust. This is one of the most important things I can do to make sure every child has the opportunity to catch up on any education, development or emotional support they may have missed during the pandemic."

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