Education and Adoption Act
The Education and Adoption Bill was one of the first pieces of legislation put forward by the government, as part of the Queen's Speech in May 2015. It was given royal assent in March 2016.
The Act makes provision for addressing inadequate and coasting schools through direct intervention from Secretary of State (SoS), including conversion to academies.
The SoS will intervene in schools 'eligible for intervention' (meaning those that are inadequate or coasting) and has duty to convert inadequate schools to academies, and a power (not duty) to convert coasting schools. There will be no requirement for consultation for conversion of schools 'eligible for intervention'.
Governing bodies and local authorities will be required to take 'all reasonable steps' to enable conversion, ensuring that the process is as rapid as possible.
Regional Schools Commissioners will extend their remit to include all schools, not just free schools and academies, and will be responsible for providing leadership support (e.g. from sponsors, local schools) to inadequate and coasting schools.
The Department for Education (DfE) has recently released its definition of a 'coasting' school. The definition is as follows (measured over three years):
- Primary: Fewer than 85 per cent achieving secondary-ready standard in reading, writing and maths over three years, and who have insufficient pupil progress
- Secondary: 2014/15 - fewer than 60 per cent achieving five good GCSEs or a below-average per cent making acceptable progress, from 2016 – achievement below Progress 8 standards (DfE's new measure showing progress from primary to GCSE)
The Act has been welcomed by those who see it as key to increasing school standards, but there is a range of voices questioning the link between academy status and improved performance, as well as the availability of expertise to deliver these improvements. The LGA is lobbying for top-performing council-run schools to play a role in supporting struggling schools as an alternative to conversion to academy status.
In Waltham Forest, work needs to be done to ascertain the potential effect of this policy on education in the borough, particularly in terms of how an increased number of academies may affect the Council's ability to influence improvements in attainment and provide a cohesive education offer across the borough.
The Regional Schools Commissioner will be working with local authorities in a sub-regional group of north east London local authorities to develop a coordinated approach to school improvement and support, in preparation for the enactment of the Education and Adoption Bill.