A government committee has echoed local council’s calls to be allowed to set up their own multi-academy trusts, to oversee failing academies, the BBC reports.

The government wants all English schools to convert into academies, operating independently of local councils and funded directly by Whitehall.

When a school becomes an academy, they are overseen by academy trusts. Groups of academies under one trust are overseen by a multi-academy trust (Mats). They are responsible for oversight of their academies.

However, there have been concerns about the effectiveness of Mats. The Commons Education Committee issued a report saying:

“There remains a high degree of uncertainty about the effectiveness of Mats, and there is not yet the evidence to prove that large-scale expansion would significantly improve the school landscape.Only time will tell whether multi-academy trusts are more successful than local authorities at creating and supporting high-performing schools and tackling underperformance.”

Numbers of Mats have almost trebled from 391 in 2011 to 1,121 in 2016, and the government envisages that most schools will have converted to academy status and joined a Mat within five or six years, says the report.

But MPs say the government has “a long way to go” to demonstrate that public money spent on academies “is being used effectively”.

The Committee also recommended that Ofsted has the power to conduct full inspections of Mats, instead of focused inspections of schools within Mats. Ofsted’s latest annual report found some trusts “showed the same weaknesses as the worst performing local authorities”.

‘Step in’

Neil Carmichael, chair of the Committee, said that while some trusts produced good results and made “a valuable contribution to our education system, a considerable number are failing to improve and are consistently at the bottom of league tables”.

He said:

“If the government is to pursue the goal of further academisation, it will need to work with local authorities and allow those councils with a track record of strong educational performance to use their expertise within their education department to create MATs.”