Fewer schools applying to be academies

CREDIT: This story was first seen in Tes

Parliamentary question reveals steady month-on-month fall in applications, Tes reports

The number of schools applying to become academies has fallen, year-on-year, in each of the past six months, official statistics reveal.

There were 88 applications last month – the lowest number for February in any of the four years for which figures were provided.

And in January, just 63 applications were received by the Department for Education – compared with 102 last January.

Overall in 2017, there were 1,107 applications – a 10% drop from 2016, when 1,232 schools applied to become academies.

However, the 2016 figure represented a sharp increase from the year before, with applications rising from 509 in 2015.

The figures come from a parliamentary question asked by Lucy Powell, who stepped down as shadow education secretary in June 2016.

The Labour MP said: “It’s clear from these figures that the rush to academisation at all costs, pushed by successive Conservative ministers, has hit the buffers with capacity problems in the system and schools turning away from academy conversion.

“With serious questions about the oversight, accountability and finances of some multi-academy trusts, a new secretary of state means a new opportunity to reassess government policy and I hope that ministers will accept that academisation is not the silver bullet for school improvement, and focus on more robust, place-based school improvement and oversight strategies.”

The statistics follow warnings about the challenges facing the academies sector, and delays in converting struggling schools into academies.

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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