Committee of Public Accounts: Press Notice

A STATEMENT FROM EDWARD LEIGH MP

CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

National Audit Office report: The Academies Programme

It is early days but today’s NAO report shows that many academies have demonstrated encouraging signs of improving education and performance for disadvantaged children.

There are big risks and challenges ahead, however.  This is a huge, costly programme that is continuing to grow and undergo big changes, such as the way academies are to be built.  Even at this early stage of the programme there has been major stumbling along the way - most of the first academies have had cost overruns that have averaged around £3 million.

This is an ambitious programme.  Each new academy must be properly prepared, opened at the right time and systematically resourced and managed, in order to hold down costs and achieve lasting improvements.  And existing academies still face big challenges - for example, with low performing sixth forms - so they mustn’t be overlooked.

One of the aims of the Academies programme is to drive up standards locally, not just in the academy.  There is not much evidence of this happening at the moment.  Academies have benefited from a lot of effort and investment.  They must do more to share these advantages with neighbouring schools and local communities. The Department can help them by removing the red tape around academy buildings being available for use by the community.

Ends

Notes for Editors

Requests for further comment from Edward Leigh should be made via Luke Robinson, Select Committee Media Officer, on 020 7219 5693 or 07917 488549.