A cross-party group of MPs has raised “significant concerns” about the performance, accountability and expansion of multi-academy trusts (MAT).
The Education Committee, which scrutinises the Department for Education, has called on ministers to allow local authorities with a track record of strong educational performance to set up their own MATs.
The committee’s report says there is a high degree of uncertainty about the effectiveness of MATs and says there is not yet the evidence to support large-scale expansion.
Neil Carmichael, MP and chairman of the committee, said: “Since launching this inquiry there have been several changes to academy policy which have caused uncertainty and instability in the sector.
“We have significant concerns about the performance, accountability and expansion of multi-academy trusts.
“While some MATs are producing excellent results and making a valuable contribution to our education system, a considerable number are failing to improve and are consistently at the bottom of league tables.”
It warns that small primary schools in rural locations could be left behind as secondary schools become academies and join MATs.
The committee welcomed the development of the DfE’s so-called growth check, used to assess whether a MAT should be permitted to take on more schools, but said the government should place tighter restrictions on the growth of trusts.
“MATs have emerged from the government’s plan to increase the number of academies but policy and oversight have been playing catch-up,” Mr Carmichael said.
“Only time will tell if MATs are more successful than local authorities in tackling under-performance and supporting high-performing schools.
“But if the government is to pursue the goal of further academisation, it will need to work with local authorities and allow those councils with a track record of strong educational performance to use their expertise within their education department to create MATs.”
The report outlines six characteristics the committee believes trusts must possess in order to be successful, including strong regional structures, robust financial controls and enhanced opportunities for career development.
The number of MATs in England has jumped from 391 in 2011 to 1,121 in 2016.
• To view the report, visit www.publications.parliament.uk
Posted by Elizabeth Scott