Fears over accountability as nearly a third of Doncaster schools become academies

Unions have voiced their concerns after ministers revealed nearly a third of Doncaster schools are now academies.

Tuesday, 9th February 2016, 6:37 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 12:19 pm
Ian Brew was principal at Trinity Academy, Thorne, when it became Doncaster's first academy in 2005. Now 30 per cent of borough schools are academies

Schools minister Edward Timpson told MPs that 30 per cent of Doncaster’s schools have now been converted to academies in response to a question from fellow Tory Bob Stewart.

The figure represents 38 of the borough’s 125 schools.

Nick Raine, regional officer for the National Union of Teachers for the Doncaster area, said: “Doncaster has every secondary school as an academy now, and we don’t think that the academy system is accountable.

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“We don’t think they are accountable to local people, and we don’t think they have been as successful as it was expected they would be.

“Schools that have needed improvement still largely need improvement.

“It has been an ideological model that Michael Gove, the former education secretary, said would be successful, but it’s been a mixed bag in Doncaster.

“Our concern is that parents, teachers and communities do not have enough of a say in the way the school is run.

“The Government has been pushing them for some time and if schools are in difficulties then they have been turned into academies. We were told they would improve, but the facts do not seem to have matched that.

“I think the Government is committed to academies and free schools. Our concern is we don’t think there is evidence that they are improving schools.”

But Doncaster Council’s head of learning is not concerned over the number of schools which have become academies.

Damian Allen, director of learning and opportunities: children and young people, said: “All of our secondary schools and 30 of our primary schools are academies.

“As the director of children’s services, children’s needs and outcomes are my main priority.

“It is not necessarily the nature of designation of the school, but whether it delivers the educational outcomes for children that matters.”

The figure puts Doncaster 42nd in the country for the proportion of state-funded schools classed as academies.

It compares with 34 per cent in Sheffield, 38 per cent in Rotherham, 40 per cent in Barnsley and 31 per cent in North Lincolnshire. North East Lincolnshire is top with 79 per cent.

Trinity Academy in Thorne became Doncaster’s first academy in 2005.