Issuing of academy orders
Letter sent to the Secretary of State for Education by the NASUWT General Secretary
I write in relation to the way in which schools are identified as underperforming for the purposes of issuing an academy order.
I understand that the DfE statutory guidance, Schools causing concern, effective from 18 April 2016, confirms that you have a duty under the Academies Act 2010 to make an academy order in respect of any maintained school that has been judged inadequate by Ofsted. The guidance defines 'inadequate' as schools that Ofsted has judged to require significant improvement or special measures, as provided for in the Education and Inspections Act 2006. The guidance does not state that this power extends to schools deemed by Ofsted to require improvement.
I was, therefore, concerned to hear this week that there may apparently be plans in place for the Regional Schools Commissioners to issue academy orders on 18 April for schools in what was described as the 'bottom two Ofsted categories'. This has been interpreted, I hope incorrectly, that all maintained schools deemed to require improvement by Ofsted, as well as those judged to be inadequate, would be subject to the duty of the Secretary of State to issue an academy order.
Whilst I recognise that the powers of intervention can extend to schools deemed to be coasting or that have been subject to a warning notice, some of which may be judged by Ofsted to require improvement, the guidance makes clear that this is distinct from the duty to issue an academy order.
I would, therefore, be grateful if you could confirm, as a matter of urgency:
• whether regional schools commissioners will be issuing academy orders on 18 April in respect of any maintained school that has been judged inadequate by Ofsted; • that academy orders will not be issued to any schools deemed by Ofsted to require improvement; and • that my understanding is correct that your duty to issue an academy order does not include schools judged by Ofsted to require improvement.