The conference looked at the impact and effectiveness of the Academies programme roughly 15 years after inception, bringing together a wide array of representatives from the policy world, government, academies (and academy chains), local authorities, and educational charities, such as the AAF.

The conference was split in to two sessions, with session 1 looking at two new pieces of research looking at the impact of academies – the Education Policy Institute’s ‘School performance in multi-academy trusts and local authorities – 2015’ and the annual ‘Chain Effects’ published by the Sutton Trust. Session 2 saw presentations from Lucy Heller, the CEO of Ark, who spoke about the benefits of academies, and a talk from a regional schools commissioner. The keynote address came from Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools and co-founder of educational charity and academy sponsor Future. Lord Nash spoke eloquently about Britain’s struggles with social mobility, the importance of school to school support and co-operation, and the importance of good teaching.

Events such as this and an up to date knowledge of research and trends in the educational field are clearly critically important to the AAF and we found a range of specific points to be relevant to the work that we do, and the aims that we aspire to achieve:

Successful academies focus on a specific definition of high aspirations

The work we do with the academies we are partnered with places significant value in encouraging our students to aim high and to increase their aspirations, and this forms a key element of (over the course of the first two years in particular) the APP

School to school cooperation can enable individual and collective success

The APP in Kent works with the pre-established Kent Academies Network to bring together students and staff from nine schools, three independent and six non-selective academies

Education is the route to improving social mobility in the UK

The Accelerate and Access Foundation drives social mobility in UK maintained schools through educational partnerships, enabling students from all backgrounds to maximise their potential

‘When you set children challenges and teach them well they rarely fail’

Our programmes are designed to expose students to new ideas and concepts, reinforce their existing subject knowledge and to raise their aspirations

The Academies programme has seen an increase in attendance at non-Russell Group universities, but is yet to see the same increase at Russell Group universities

We have completed our third year of the programme in Kent, working closely with six leading Academies in the County. The years 10 to 12 Students currently participating in the scheme are making fantastic progress, and are on target for top University places