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Unleashing greatness: getting the best from an academised system

The Academies Commission

The Academies Commission, sponsored by CfBT, conducted a seven-month 'rapid review' of the academies landscape and this report documents its findings.

In considering the evidence gathered, the Academies Commission found that the introduction of academies has provided much-needed vitality to the school system. At the same time, the evidence considered does not suggest that improvement across all academies has been strong enough to transform the life chances of children from the poorest families.

There have been some stunning successes among individual sponsored academies and academy chains, and these have raised expectations of what can be achieved even in the most deprived areas. But it is increasingly clear that academy status alone is not a panacea for improvement. While inspiring cases abound, and there are signs of a trend of longer term improvement among sponsored academies, the recent report from the National Audit Office (2012) highlights that Ofsted has judged almost half of all sponsored academies as inadequate or satisfactory (the latter is now defined as 'requiring improvement').

The Academies Commission has recognised three imperatives for the further development of the academies programme. These imperatives are not new to the education system but they need to become a more central feature of the academies programme. These are:

  • a forensic focus on both teaching and learning
  • ensuring fairness and accessibility
  • ensuring accountability to pupils, parents, and other stakeholders.