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Thinktank launches probe of academy schools

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The RSA thinktank has set up a commission to study impact on the education system of the rapid growth in the number of academy schools.

Reporting in only nine months, it will look at the implications of the spread of academies on school improvement, pupil attainment, accountability, the roles of sponsors, governance, local education markets and at what should happen if an academy fails. The number of academies has increased since the 2010 general election from 200 to 1,635.

Former chief inspector of schools Christine Gilbert will chair the commission, whose other members are Brett Wigdortz, chief executive of Teach First and Professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education.

Ms Gilbert said: “The rapid expansion of academies is fundamental to the Coalition government’s education policies. This represents major structural change to the English school system but little has been done to explore the implications and impact of this expansion.”

RSA programmes director Adam Lent said this would be the first of a series of ‘speed commissions’ run by the thinktank to hold rapid studies of public policy issues.

He said: “RSA speed commissions will get leading experts to take an intensive look at the more immediate issues confronting politicians with the aim of reporting in no more than nine months.”


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