Today’s news review covers the new Healthy Pupils Capital Fund and a report from the Education Select Committee on multi-academy trusts (MATs).
Healthy Pupils Capital Fund
Yesterday, Monday 27 February, we announced a new Healthy Pupils Capital Fund. This is an allocation of £415 million in 2018/19 for schools to spend on new facilities for pupils to benefit from healthier and more active lifestyles.
This fund has been generated by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which was first announced in the 2016 Budget.
The announcement received widespread online coverage, including from the BBC, i, TES and Schools Week. It was also covered by Good Morning Britain.
Primary, secondary and sixth form colleges will be able to use the money to pay for sports facilities and forms part of our commitment to give children a better and healthier future.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said:
Schools can really help our children get a healthy start in life from exercise and sport, and also from knowing what a healthy diet means. It’s not only good for them while they’re in education, but the health and wellbeing benefits can last a lifetime.
That’s why we’re investing £415m in facilities to support sports, after school activities and promoting healthy eating, so we can secure the future health of our young people.
Education Select Committee report
Today, 28 February, the Education Select Committee released a report on the performance of multi-academy trusts (MATs).
It calls for local authorities with a track record of strong educational performance to be able to set up their own MATs.
The story was covered in The Guardian and BBC Online.
We remain committed to supporting MATs, which are subject to strict oversight and accountability, in providing more good school places for thousands of children across the country. We also believe that trusts should be impartial and autonomous from the local authority.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Thanks to our reforms there are now almost 1.8 million more children being taught in schools rated good or outstanding schools than in 2010. The best multi-academy trusts are turning round struggling schools across the country and providing good school places for thousands of children.
The oversight and accountability system for academies and MATs is more robust than LA maintained schools, allowing us to take swift action to deal with underperformance. Where an academy is failing to reach the standards we expect, action is taken including transferring schools to new trusts. We are already developing a ‘growth check’ to ensure good trusts only take on new schools when they are ready and it will not impact on the education of the children they are already responsible for.
Local authorities are already able to be part of a MAT with up to a fifth of its board having links to their local authority. We encourage all trusts to work collaboratively and the best already do so but maintaining their independence is a crucial part of encouraging the innovation that has driven up standards in so many schools.
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