Academies focus on growth but admit it also represents their biggest challenge
A survey amongst academy trusts has found that growth is a double-edged sword – presenting both significant challenges and opportunities for growth.
The Confederation of School Trusts has published its first national survey of school trusts. It found that:
- 57% of trusts confirmed growth was a top three priority, second only to improving quality of education (75 per cent).
- Mid-sized trusts with between two and ten schools were most likely to prioritise growth (65 per cent), compared to 47 per cent of single-school trusts and 13 per cent of trusts with more than 20 schools.
- Two in five trusts described growth as their biggest challenge – ahead of both financial sustainability and improving quality of education
The report’s authors argue that the finding could be seen in a positive light as it “shows a realisation of the fact that achieving growth without sacrificing educational quality requires careful thought and leadership”.
The report continued: “Among some of the earlier trusts there have been examples of overly rapid growth leading to too much strain on systems, and in turn to negative consequences for educational quality.
“This is to be avoided as we seek the benefits of growth for improvement capacity and (financial) sustainability.”
Other findings by the Confederation of Schools Trusts included concerns over:
- SEND funding and delivery – particularly amongst larger trusts
- Trustee vacancies – with more than half of surveyed trusts admitting they had vacancies on their trustee board
- Environmental sustainability – despite ambitious green targets put in place by the Government, only 20 per cent of trusts said they had a strategy to become carbon neutral.
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