'Some failing schools shunted between trusts as sponsors collect millions in grants'
'More than 300 primary schools across England have been forced to become academies in the last three years against a backdrop of mounting opposition from parents, a Guardian investigation has revealed.
Analysis of government data has shown that 314 schools were forcibly removed from local authority control after being rated inadequate by Ofsted. The Department for Education (DfE) has paid out at least £18.4m to academy trusts for taking on the schools.
Concerns are growing, however, about the stability of the system, with evidence that a rapidly increasing number of primary schools are being passed from one trust to another after conversion, causing long-term disruption and uncertainty.
Guardian analysis of DfE data shows that the number of primary schools transferred between academy trusts following conversion has tripled in just three years, from 39 to 121. Since 2013-14 more than 300 primary academies have been rebrokered or moved between trusts.
As a result, academy sponsors have picked up almost £4m in grants after taking a school from another chain, infuriating critics who point to the current funding squeeze in schools. Meanwhile, seven trusts running primary schools closed in the space of a year up to 2017-18, leaving their schools in search of another sponsor.
Commenting on the Guardian findings, the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “This is yet another sign that the Tories’ academy system is failing even on its own terms. The problem of ‘zombie schools’, abandoned by failing academy chains, is spreading at primary level, while other schools are passed from to trust to trust, leading to growing instability.”
Academy trusts, meanwhile, are expanding rapidly as they absorb more schools. St Ralph Sherwin Catholic multi-academy trust in Nottingham saw the biggest increase, jumping from six to 20 schools in just one year, receiving an estimated £1m from the DfE in the process. Three of these were forced academisations.'
Read more: More than 300 English primary schools forced to become academies