Detailed plans for moving all schools into strong academy trusts have been published today (Wednesday 25 May), kickstarting work towards the goal set out in the Schools White Paper for every school to be in, or in the process of joining, a trust by 2030.
The focus on strong trusts is intended to help every child fulfil their potential, by making sure teachers and schools have the trust’s support in everything from teacher training to the curriculum.
The implementation plan for the coming academic year commits to working with local partners within each of the Department’s 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs), and publishing priorities for each by the autumn.
The Department will lead strategic planning to address local challenges in EIAs, such as how to best:
- strengthen existing local trusts;
- attract strong trusts to operate locally;
- support small, rural schools; and
- manage the transition of all schools in an area to a fully trust led system.
The Department has also today published details of how local authorities can apply to establish a multi-academy trust.
This ‘test and learn’ activity will take place with a view to applying identified best practice nationwide following the conclusion of the planned academy trust regulatory review and once the Schools Bill has become law.
More details of the regulatory review are to be published in the coming weeks, to make sure that as all schools become part of an academy trust, the right framework is in place to hold trusts to account to high standards in their support of their schools, pupils, and local communities.
The Schools Bill will bring the new regulatory standards developed through the review on to a statutory footing, provide a range of new powers to drive up standards, including the possibility for the Secretary of State to intervene in the very rare case of a failing academy trust, and support the 2030 goal, including allowing local authorities to request their schools move into strong trusts.
Schools Minister Baroness Barran said:
There has been a real energy and interest from across the school sector in our plans to transition all schools into strong academy trusts to help secure the best outcomes for children.
Asking all schools to join strong trusts is not only borne out of our ambition for young people – but also because strong trusts provide wider opportunities for teachers and support for schools, helping deliver on our White Paper missions to drive up outcomes in maths and English for children leaving primary school and completing their GCSEs.
I am determined that we capitalise on the shared enthusiasm I am seeing from across the sector to do the best for every child, by using the next year to develop a partnership approach to innovating, learning, and using data and evidence as we build the 2030 school system.
The 22/23 implementation plan outlines how schools, trusts, local authorities and, where applicable, dioceses or other faith bodies, can take the next steps in the journey towards a stronger and fairer system.
It also encourages organisations to pose themselves a series of challenging questions – about the growth rate they could sustain as a trust, or capacity of the school or local authority to establish a new trust – to support them in engaging constructively with the Department over the coming year.
The Department will, over the course of the year, build out its best practice approach to strategic planning with local areas – known as area-based commissioning – with the intention of expanding the approach nationwide from 23/24.