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Academy Sponsorship Programme

Volume 597: debated on Monday 15 June 2015

2. What plans she has to widen and enhance the academy sponsorship programme; and if she will make a statement. (900296)

Since 2010 the Government’s academies programme has ensured that more than 1,100 of the worst-performing schools have been taken over by successful sponsors or headteachers. Regional schools commissioners, working with headteacher boards, continue to encourage and invite new sponsors so that more pupils have the opportunity to benefit from the transformation that great sponsors can bring.

Is the Minister aware that the successful academy in my constituency, Springwood high school, has recently taken over the academy sponsorship of St Clement’s high school and that the results are already showing huge improvement? Will he join me in paying tribute to the executive headteacher of West Norfolk Academies Trust, Andy Johnson, and his team? Will he also agree to visit this huge local success story in the near future?

I would be delighted to add my tribute to Andy Johnson. The vision of the West Norfolk Academies Trust is to produce world-class standards of student achievement, and it is the application of that vision that has resulted in its approach improving other schools in the area. I shall be delighted to visit schools in my hon. Friend’s constituency as soon as he invites me to do so.

When a school has been rated inadequate by Ofsted and is therefore subject to an academy order, the Government say there will be no requirement to consult on conversion to academy status. With that in mind, what are the merits of removing the right of parents to be consulted, and how does that sit with the Government’s rhetoric on accountability to parents?

The new Education and Adoption Bill is designed to ensure that those groups of people who are ideologically opposed to academisation are not allowed to disrupt or delay the process of academisation for those schools that have been letting down pupils year after year. This is about social justice and ensuring that every child, regardless of their background, has a good quality education. I hope the hon. Lady will support the Bill.

Before the general election, the Secretary of State visited Dukeries college in Ollerton. Will the Minister find time to visit Sherwood and Dukeries college to see its exciting plans to improve information technology in the new academy?

I understand that the Secretary of State had a very enjoyable visit and I, too, would enjoy visiting the school to see the innovative approach it is taking to IT and other elements of the curriculum.

Coasting schools are to be forced to become academies. What is going to happen to coasting academies? Are they to be forced to become schools?

The Government have powers to issue pre-warning notices to a trust, demanding urgent action to improve, and ultimately a warning notice can be issued by the Government to change sponsors. We have in fact changed the sponsors for 69 academies. The academisation programme is delivering higher standards across the board. Schools that have been academies for four years are improving their GCSE results by 6.4%, and there are similar high improvements in primary schools that have become academies. This is about improving standards across our school systems, and I expect the hon. Gentleman to support this approach.