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Due to the government's vision for every maintained school in England to become an academy, one of our partners decided to conduct their own research into the rise of academies and the impact they are having on both parents and teachers. HCSS Education wanted to investigate the concerns that staff have, or had, about converting – and what the biggest challenges around converting to academy status are perceived to be.
The study of over 100 schools and academies in the UK found that schools feel under pressure to convert to academy status, with 82% expressing the opinion that they are feeling more than just encouragement to convert. This is despite 59% of school respondents not wanting to convert. Nervousness about the process was the main concern around conversion for schools, with 65% of schools surveyed believing that staff will be wary of changes that may occur in the school.
A significant 41% of schools feel that they will eventually be required to convert to academy status, despite only 4% of current academies actually being ‘forced’ to do so. This feeling may be down to the promise laid out in the Conservative Party’s 2015 Manifesto to “turn every failing and ‘coasting’ secondary school into an academy and create free schools for parents who want them".
Although Michael Gove was replaced by Nicky Morgan as Education Secretary in 2014, most of the former’s policies remained in place for the Conservatives Party’s 2015 Manifesto. These are promises the party will feel it has to deliver upon after its majority win in 2015, and will need to in order to fulfil the government's desire to eventually turn every maintained school into an academy.
This scenario could explain the pressure all schools are feeling, and not just the "failing and coasting" ones. How justified the fears prove to be will become clear as the new administration beds itself in after five years of coalition, but with the government’s stated intentions, schools are probably right to be wary of – and more importantly prepared for – changes to come.