The Sutton Trust recognised these implications for the academies policy:
1 The role of academies within the education system needed to be clarified.
2 The Government should look again at the objectives of the academies programme and hone them if necessary.
3 Academies admission practices, along with other state schools, should be more closely monitored.
4 Banding, where used, had encouraged academies to become more inclusive but area-wide banding would ensure that the use of banding by an academy would not have a negative effect on the intake of neighbouring schools.
5 Consultation should take place to judge the demand and appropriateness of particular subject specialisms in a local area.
6 Staff and parents should be represented on academies’ governing bodies.
7 The emergence of academy chains could be potentially valuable but care would be needed to ensure that individual academies did not lose their ability to make decisions.
8 Any innovative good practice developed in academies should be shared by following the model of Professional Development Schools.
9 The involvement of universities in academies should be extended to other types of schools particularly where progression rates to university were low.
10 Politicians should not regard academies as “a panacea for a broad range of education problems”. Academy conversion “may not always be the best route to improvement. Care needs to be taken to ensure that Academies are the ‘best fit’ solution to the problem at hand.”
11 Pupil level data should be used with more sophistication to evaluate the success of academies.
12 Comparison between academies, and academies and other schools, should take context into account eg admission policies, demographics, performance of predecessor schools and changes in leadership.
The Sutton Trust into progress, problems and possibilities of the academies programme can be downloaded here.