Commenting on Academies Sector Annual Report and Accounts 2019/20, published by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“This is a very timely report which shows us, ahead of the White Paper, that the Government’s plans for a fully academised system are based on spurious claims about the benefits of multi-academy trusts (MATs). 

“The report makes all too clear that these plans are likely to be both unworkable and damaging. The rationale of the academy system - based on competition between chains - means there will always be schools that are left unsupported. Yet, as the report sets out, there will also be academy chains that are too big to fail, meaning the government will continue to pump money into the coffers of big-name MATs and into a system that is dysfunctional. 

“It is incredible that the Government is still unable to get a hold of the rocketing pay of academy chief executives. While schools are forced to tighten budgets and cut back on key areas, this is nothing short of a disgrace. 

“The report also makes clear that there is a deficit of both accountability and transparency in the academies system. The government now likes to refer to ‘families of schools’, despite being responsible for tearing those families apart over the past twelve years. This is a clear effort to distract from the reality of academisation: pushing schools into a top-down corporate structure has left staff, parents, pupils and communities with less of a voice and little say over the future of their school. Top-down reorganisations that increase private involvement in state services is something the public does not want to see. 

“Following the pandemic, there are a clear set of priorities in education that the government should be addressing. Whether it be funding, curriculum, education recovery, tackling the increasing levels of child poverty, or the crises in teacher recruitment and retention, one thing we can be sure of is that massive and unnecessary structural change is very far down the list. Indeed, there is no place whatsoever for such ideological obsessions.”