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NEU comment: Sutton Trust on Academy Chains

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union has commented on the Sutton Trust report Chain Effects 2018, published today.

“The foundational myth of the academies programme – that it would boost educational attainment among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – must now be laid to rest as just that: a myth.

“This report conclusively shows that the expansion of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) under the academy programme has not delivered on what it was supposed to. In fact it’s done the opposite, with two-thirds of academy chains performing below the national average for disadvantaged pupils.

“The haphazard efforts by successive governments to build some sort of structure to support academies has resulted in the entirely ineffectual but bloated bureaucracy of the regional schools commissioners (RSCs). This report concludes that there is little evidence they are having any success in bringing about improvement and yet their budgets increase year on year, with over £30 million spent on their staffing last year.

“The Government should reflect on what impact their dysfunctional system is having on children, parents and schools staff across the country. Now is the time to admit failure and move on. It is time to stop focusing on trying to find new sponsors for schools when clearly the system of MATs is not working. A first step would be to allow schools who have been failed by academy trusts to go back to their local authorities when they choose. But what is needed in the long run is a wholesale return of schools to a system of democratic oversight and support.”

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