Academy sponsors sought to ‘raise standards at struggling schools’

A GOVERNMENT Minister has called on leading schools and businesses to become academy sponsors to help raise standards in Yorkshire as new figures showed more than 100 schools in the region are still failing.

Schools Minister Lord Nash made the call ahead of three events taking place in place around Leeds this week to promote the Government’s academies programme in the region.

The Department for Education is looking for academy sponsors to take on struggling schools and Lord Nash warned that although many schools in Yorkshire are performing well there are still primaries and secondaries where children were “not getting the standard of education they need”.

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The Department for Education has produced new tables which show there are 89 primary schools and another 24 secondary schools which are missing key floor targets in Sats tests and GCSEs.

There are also 53 schools, 38 primary, 13 secondary and three special schools or pupil referral units, in the region in special measures having been ranked as inadequate by Ofsted.

However, Lord Nash has praised performance of academy sponsors in the region – singling out Outwood Grange Academy in Wakefield and the Gorse Academies Trust, which runs Morley and Farnley Academies, for praise.

Academies are state schools which are run autonomously rather than being part of a council education authority. Academies were set up by Tony Blair’s government to replace struggling inner-city secondary schools.

Since taking office the coalition has rapidly expanded the programme by encouraging existing schools to opt out of local council control and become academies.

It is now looking for successful schools, businesses and “enterprising groups” to join the programme to raise standards at struggling schools.

There are 348 academies open in Yorkshire. Of these 247 are existing state schools that have converted and another 101 are sponsored academies with leadership provided by another school or outside body.

Lord Nash said: “I want to see all schools in the area achieving the very best for their pupils. There are some fantastic examples of great schools here – but equally there are cases where children are not getting the start in life they deserve.

“I would urge businesses and public-spirited individuals and groups to come forward and sponsor an academy, become a governor or get involved in another way in helping young people realise their potential.”

The three events taking place are aimed at community, business and education leaders. The community event takes place at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds tomorrow from 5.30pm. Two events take place on Friday morning at the Farnley Academy for businesses and schools.