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Sponsored Academies

Volume 554: debated on Monday 3 December 2012

Since May 2010, 146 sponsored primary academies have opened, including two new provision sponsored primary academies. In addition, 15 underperforming primary schools have converted and joined an academy chain.

I was recently honoured to open a new classroom at Mottram St Andrew primary academy. That will not only help to enhance the facilities available to pupils, but will assist the academy’s work with School Direct trainee teachers in conjunction with the university of Manchester. Does my right hon. Friend agree that progress in outstanding schools such as that one helps to highlight the progress and steps that are being made by innovative academy schools, and that that should encourage other primary schools to seek academy status?

I agree with my hon. Friend, and that is a good example of the way outstanding schools can use the freedoms of academy status to innovate and improve their standards further. Too many primary schools in the country are not reaching the level of good and outstanding—we heard from the chief inspector that 2 million children are still being educated in schools that are neither good nor outstanding. Academy status is a potential way to improve the leadership and governance of those schools.

The Minister will be aware that Coventry primary schools are rated lowest in the country in the latest Ofsted report, and there is widespread dismay in Coventry about that. Although no one is convinced that sponsored academies are the whole or a necessary part of the answer, at the request of the Coventry council member responsible for education, I have written to the Secretary of State suggesting that resources in the Department for Education might help to rectify the situation. I am looking forward to an early reply. When might I get it?

The hon. Gentleman can expect a very early reply, and I am delighted that he and other hon. Members are taking seriously the conclusions of Sir Michael Wilshaw who has drawn attention to the massive disparity across the country in the proportion of schools that achieve good and outstanding status. There are boroughs in inner London, for example, where almost 100% of schools achieve good or outstanding status, right down to those local authorities where barely 40% of schools achieve that. Either I or one of my departmental colleagues would be delighted to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss the issue further.