William Eichler 15 April 2019

Over 50,000 pupils stuck in ‘zombie schools’

Over 50,000 pupils stuck in ‘zombie schools’ image

Tens of thousands of pupils are stuck ‘in limbo’ as their academies wait to be transferred between trusts.

According to figures from the Department for Education, there are 93 schools awaiting ‘rebrokering’ – the system by which academies are transferred from one trust to another.

This is typically done when there are concerns about the performance of an academy.

Of these schools, 48 are primary schools, 42 are secondary schools, two are special schools, and one is a provider of alternative provision.

Four have gone more than a year without being transferred between trusts.

A further 31 have been in the rebrokering process for between six and 12 months and one school has been waiting 23 months.

The Labour Party has calculated, using average pupil numbers in different school types, that there could be over 53,000 pupils in these so-called ‘zombie schools’.

‘The Tories have created a fragmented school system in which many schools are simply unable to access additional support, and tens of thousands of pupils will suffer the consequences,’ said Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for education.

‘Despite leaving almost 100 schools in limbo they are taking no direct action to ensure that schools are re-brokered quickly and effectively to ensure that schools and pupils get the support they need.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Education defended the academy system and said that only a small percentage of schools had to transfer trusts.

‘One of the key strengths of the academy system is that it operates under a strict system of oversight and accountability,’ they said.

‘It means in any instances of under-performance we can take swift action, including transferring schools to new sponsors on the rare occasions this is necessary.

‘In 2017/18, only 255 academies successfully transferred trust in England, accounting for just 3.3% of all academies.’

‘Rebrokerage can happen due to a range of reasons, usually because a standalone academy is voluntarily becoming part of a trust, and where it is necessary we work closely with the schools affected through the Regional School Commissioners and their teams to make sure pupils’ education isn't adversely affected,’ the spokesperson continued.

‘Where schools have been judged inadequate by Ofsted, they must have plans in place to improve, even whilst they are they are awaiting a new sponsor.’?

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