Press release

Academy numbers have increased but vary by region – says new research

30 November 2016

There has been a steady increase in the number of academies that have opened since Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) took up their posts in September 2014, new research by the National Foundation for Educational Research has revealed.

The report, A Tale of Eight Regions(1), is the first in a two-part series(2) which explores the evolving schools’ landscape since RSCs were introduced. It examines how regions have changed in terms of the number and proportion of academies and free schools across the RSCs areas. It finds:

RSCs are rapidly becoming an important and powerful part of the English education system. Appointed in September 2014 to oversee the growing numbers of academies in England, recent announcements have indicated that their roles will expand to include decision-making in tackling underperformance in LA-maintained schools and for coasting schools.

Karen Wespieser, Head of Impact at NFER, said: “In a rapidly changing school landscape, this report provides a timely picture of the pace of academisation and how it varies by region. This research, the first of two new reports, builds on NFER’s growing body of evidence about the self improving school system and our next report in the New Year will use the latest performance data to explore the future challenges RSCs face.”


For further information contact: Jane Parrack 01753 637245 or Pippa Cox 01753 637177

Notes for editors

  1. Hillary, J., Easton, C., Bernardinelli, D. and Gee, G. (2016). A Tale of Eight Regions. Part 1: A snapshot of the evolving school system across Regional Schools Commissioner areas
  2. The second part, to be published in early 2017, will use the latest performance data to explore the future challenges RSCs face in terms of schools in their areas requiring action and will include:
    1. a summary of changes in attainment by phase across RSC areas over time
    2. an analysis of the challenges faced by RSCs in terms of schools that are causing concern and switching to academy status
    3. an assessment of future sponsor capacity compared to the demand for new sponsors.
  3. NFER published a first report on RSCs in September 2015 A Guide to Regional Schools Commissioners.
  4. NFER has a worldwide reputation for providing independent and rigorous research in education. As a charity, any surplus generated by the Foundation is reinvested in research projects to provide evidence that improves education and the life chances of learners in the UK and beyond.; @TheNFER