Government academisation timescale ‘risky’, warns Fasna

The Freedom and Autonomy for Schools National Association (Fasna) has raised concerns over the timescale set by the government to convert all state funded schools to academies by 2022.

According to a report from the BBC, Fasna, a national forum for self-governing primary, secondary and special schools, academies and multi-academy trusts, has said that the plans are ‘risky’ and questions whether there is the capacity to execute the policy effectively.

The plans for all state funded schools to be converted into academies was announced in the 2016 Budget and further clarified in the ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’ white paper released on 17 March.

The plans outline that every school will be in the process of being converted into an academy by 2020, with no schools remaining under local authority control by 2022.

While Fasna agrees with the general direction of the policy, that creating autonomous schools is the best way to raise educational standards, it believes that the speed at which the government is planning these changes could be cause for alarm.

Tom Clark, Fasna chairman, told the BBC: "Given that there are 16,000 schools that are not academies, to get them to switch to that new structure on this timescale and for that to be effective is really quite challenging.

"We broadly support the direction of policy and that includes the concept of system leadership by schools, but I am surprised at the speed and timeline.

"The White Paper depends on system leadership by the schools. Our question is whether there's the capacity to execute that policy effectively."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Full academisation will mean that all schools will be part of a dynamic self-improving system in which underperformance can be addressed decisively.

"We are giving schools until 2020 to carefully consider the best arrangement for becoming an academy and until 2022 to convert.

"Each Regional School Commissioner will play a pivotal role in recruiting new sponsors to take on underperforming schools, and we will be investing in the people and systems necessary."

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