Harris Federation

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Harris Federation is a federation of Primary and Secondary academies in and around London. There are currently 44 open Harris academies educating 32,000 students The Harris Federation employs 4,400 staff.

The academies' sponsor is Phil Harris (Lord Harris of Peckham), former chairman and chief executive of Carpetright. The federation is a not-for-profit charitable organisation. The group is generally oversubscribed in most of its Academies, particularly Harris City Academy Crystal Palace with 2,016 applicants for 180 spaces in 2014.[1]

The Chief Executive Officer is Dr Daniel Moynihan, previously Principal of the Harris City Academy Crystal Palace. He is the full-time CEO at the Harris Federation Headquarters in East Croydon.

The majority of Harris academies inspected by Ofsted have been rated 'Outstanding' which is Ofsted's highest rating, with the rest rated 'Good' which is the second highest rating.[2] Some of these, such as Westwood Girls' College and Battersea Park School, now Harris Academy Upper Norwood, and Harris Academy Battersea, were in Ofsted's category of Special Measures before being run by the Harris Federation.[3][4] An example of the success of the federation is Harris Academy Chafford Hundred who were described as "outstanding" by Ofsted with a score of 30/31.[5]

The group of schools is run as a federation rather than a chain and it claims that the autonomy of its Principals, who are 'free to innovate', is at the heart of its success.[6]

In 2016, the Department for Education recognised the Harris Federation as a "top performer" in primary and secondary education, when comparing the performance of different multi-academy trusts.[7] In July 2016, researchers at the Education Policy Institute found that "at primary level the Harris Federation is the highest performing school group in England – the improvement it has made is equivalent to pupils making around one and a half times more progress than average".

In 2017, the Harris Federation was recognised by government league tables as being the top performing multi-academy trust (MAT) in England.[8] Commenting on the new performance data, Schools Standards Minister, Nick Gibb, said that the Harris Federation is "leading the way" in delivering excellent results for its pupils.[9]

Harris Academies have been criticised for high turnover of staff,[10] whilst also paying CEO Daniel Moynihan in excess of £300,000 a year[11], and it was the first in the UK whose chief executive earned over £500,000.[12]

In 2018 the second primary school run by this academy chain had SATs results annulled. The Standards and Testing Agency cancelled some of the results of former year six pupils at Harris Primary Academy Kent House over fears of “maladministration”.


Primary schools[edit]

  • Harris Primary Academy Beckenham, Beckenham
  • Harris Primary Academy Benson, Shirley
  • Harris Junior Academy Carshalton, Carshalton
  • Harris Primary Academy Chafford Hundred, Chafford Hundred
  • Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park, Tottenham
  • Harris Primary Academy Crystal Palace, Penge
  • Harris Primary Academy East Dulwich, East Dulwich
  • Harris Primary Academy Haling Park, South Croydon
  • Harris Primary Academy Kenley, Kenley
  • Harris Primary Academy Kent House, Penge
  • Harris Primary Academy Mayflower, Chafford Hundred
  • Harris Primary Academy Merton, Mitcham
  • Harris Primary Free School Peckham, Peckham
  • Harris Primary Academy Peckham Park, Peckham
  • Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane, Tottenham
  • Harris Primary Academy Shortlands, Shortlands

Secondary schools[edit]

Social Mobility[edit]

In 2014, 2015 and 2016, research by the Sutton Trust found that the Harris Federation was among "The best academy chains (for) having a transformational impact on pupils’ life chances".[13][14][15]

The Harris Federation runs a cultural enrichment programme that aims to improve outcomes for their brightest students, with activities run with organisations such as LAMDA, the Royal Opera House and Christie's.[16]

In 2014, the Harris Federation and Westminster School opened the Harris Westminster Sixth Form. The aim of the sixth form, which received 1,000 applications for 250 places, is to help students from London's state schools access top universities.[17] In

Harris Federation academies are the top school for progress in five of the nine boroughs in which the Federation operates and three Harris academies – Harris Academy Battersea, Harris Academy Morden and Harris Academy Bromley – are in the top 1% of schools in the country for pupil progress.

The Harris Federation is the highest performing MAT in the country for pupil progress and EBACC qualifications for disadvantaged students.[18]

In 2018, Harris Academy Battersea received an 'Outstanding' rating from Ofsted. Previously known as Battersea Park School and Battersea Technology College, the school became a Harris Academy in 2014 after it was branded inadequate. In one year at the previous school, no pupils gained five or more GCSE passes[19]. In 2003 three percent of children left with five A*-C GCSEs and in 2017 this figure was 83%. The school is now oversubscribed and the percentage of students applying to Russell Group universities has greatly increased[20]. Ofsted said that teachers were proud to work at the academy, that morale was high and pupils of all abilities make "very strong progress".[21]

Teacher Housing[edit]

In 2016, concerned that teachers were being priced out of London because of the cost of accommodation, the Harris Federation launched a campaign for academy trusts to be able to turn unused land on their school sites into affordable housing for teachers.[22]


Some of the schools within the federation were formerly run by local authorities, and forced by central government to become academies as part of the Harris Federation against the wishes of 94% of the parents and boards of governors. There was national media coverage over Downhills Primary School (now Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane),[23] where it was reported that 94% of parents opposed the change to academy status.[24] At the time, the government said it had decided to close Downhills Primary School and re-open it as a Harris Academy because of 'chronic underperformance' at Downhills.[25] According to national news reports, standards of education at Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane quickly improved with the Federation’s involvement.[26] Having been in special measures before becoming a Harris academy, its first inspection report after opening found that it was now good with outstanding features.[27]

Some of the results achieved have perplexed governors and education experts at schools with similar cohorts. Reacting to the news, that the Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane [28] in the heart of Tottenham, had being unduly helping their pupils in their Key Stage 2 Sats tests, Fiona Millar said "I’ve scrutinised their data and wondered how they get these results with similar cohorts of pupils. Increasingly we see they do it by this unethical behaviour. " [29] Year 6 pupils were given too much help in their English reading and maths reasoning Sats, according to the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). Thus, pupils’ scores in those papers have been expunged and they will receive scores only for their spelling, punctuation and grammar tests. In a letter sent to parents on Monday, 6 August 2018, the academy’s chair of governors, described the investigation findings as “deeply regrettable and disappointing”.[29]

Another school forced against wishes of some parents and governors to take on academy status and placed in the Harris Federation was Roke Primary School. Now known as Harris Primary Academy Kenley, a range of complaints were raised by parents when it reopened under the new management.[30] The academy failed to win over parents, and started by issuing a uniform list with grocers' apostrophes and spelling mistakes. [31] The academy has since been judged 'outstanding' by Ofsted.[32] As part of a local awards scheme, the Principal of the academy was nominated as a 'Croydon Hero' because of the improvements that took place.[33]

The Harris Westminster Sixth Form, which was scheduled to open in 2014, has been criticised for costing £45 million of public money to establish. Before it opened, the former chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, called it a "vanity project".[34][35] However, Ofsted inspected the Sixth Form in autumn 2016, rated it "outstanding" in all areas and praised it for creating "a community of scholars".[36] Its first set of A Levels were described as "outstanding" by The Times, which reported that "almost a third" of pupils "cannot afford to pay for school meals, but they achieved 12% A* grades and 42% A% to A grades".[37]

Harris Academies have some of the highest turnover of staff amongst schools in the UK, with the Guardian reporting that over a third of Harris teachers leave after just one year, with 1,000 teachers leaving the Federation in three academic years, underlined by 34 leaving Harris Falconwood in 2015 alone. The Anti-Academies Alliance put this high turnover down to poor working conditions, excessive workload and unreasonable pressure on teachers from senior leadership.[38][39]. There are also concerns nationally about teacher retention, with 8% of teachers leaving the profession in 2016.[40]


  1. ^ "London school places: Children sent for secret tuition as competition". London Evening Standard. 3 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Inspection report". reports.ofsted.gov.uk. 5 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Bach to school: Classical music used to improve Croydon's worst secondary". 23 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Special measures school turned around by dedicated staff in Battersea". Wandsworth Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Inspection report". reports.ofsted.gov.uk. 5 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Harris boss: 'All our schools are autonomous. But they are also accountable to people who understand education'". 10 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Multi-academy trust performance measures: 2014 to 2015". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  8. ^ "All multi-academy trusts (MATs) in England - GOV.UK - Find and compare schools in England". Find and compare schools in England. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  9. ^ "Education standards continue to rise at GCSE and A level". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  10. ^ Mansell, Warwick (13 October 2015). "School's out for Harris academy teachers in turnover that 'should ring alarm bells'". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Mansell, Warwick. "Academy boss earns more than chief executive of NHS England". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  12. ^ Coughlan, Sean (23 February 2018). "'Fat cat' academy bosses face challenge over pay". BBC News. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Three in four academy chains have #coasting schools', but best chains continue to 'transform' pupils' life chances". www.suttontrust.com.
  14. ^ "Best academy chains outperform mainstream average for poorer pupils, but weakest ones fall behind". www.suttontrust.com.
  15. ^ "Sutton Trust - Chain Effects 2016". www.suttontrust.com. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  16. ^ Woolcock, Nicola. "'Finishing' schools prepare state pupils for Oxbridge". The Times.
  17. ^ "Inside the state school offering a £30,000-a-year standard of education". The Daily Telegraph.
  18. ^ "All multi-academy trusts (MATs) in England - GOV.UK - Find and compare schools in England". Find and compare schools in England. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  19. ^ "Head's ban on shrugging and eye-rolling led to top Ofsted rating". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  20. ^ "Head's ban on shrugging and eye-rolling led to top Ofsted rating". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  21. ^ enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk, Ofsted Communications Team. (2010-11-05). "Find an inspection report". reports.ofsted.gov.uk. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  22. ^ Adams, Richard (2016-04-16). "Teacher shortages 'of greater concern than full-scale academisation'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  23. ^ "List of primary schools in Haringay". Haringay Council. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  24. ^ "Primary school parents in row over takeover by academy chain". The Guardian. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  25. ^ "Downhills Primary School to become an academy". BBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Downhills Primary School: A notorious school that has become an advert". The Independent. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  27. ^ Moore, by Stephen. "Tottenham primary school at heart of academy debate judged 'good' in first Ofsted inspection". Tottenham Journal. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  28. ^ "Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane - Our Academies - Harris Federation". www.harrisfederation.org.uk. Harris Federation. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  29. ^ a b Batty, David (8 August 2018). "Highly rated academy gave Sats pupils too much help – inquiry". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  30. ^ "Parents fury as Roke begins new era". Croydon Advertiser. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  31. ^ "Harris academy gets 0/10 for staff's spelling and grammar". Inside Croydon. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  32. ^ "Controversial academy deemed 'outstanding' by Ofsted after primary school transformation". Croydon Advertiser. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  33. ^ "Croydon Champions: In principal, it's all down to Kate". Croydon Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  34. ^ Oliver Wright (29 March 2014). "Anger over new £45m free school that may be Britain's most expensive". The Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  35. ^ "Michael Gove under fire for 'outrageous' £45million spend on free school in London". Evening Standard. 29 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  36. ^ "Harris Westminster Sixth Form". reports.ofsted.gov.uk. 5 November 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  37. ^ "Deprived sixth-formers thrive on competition". The Times. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  38. ^ "Anti Academies Alliance | Harris Federation – Spotlight on Sponsors". antiacademies.org.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  39. ^ Mansell, Warwick. "School's out for Harris academy teachers in turnover that 'should ring alarm bells'". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  40. ^ Sellgren, Katherine (2018). "Teacher retention: 'I was consumed by the work'". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-15.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°24′01″N 0°04′32″W / 51.4003°N 0.0755°W / 51.4003; -0.0755