SCHOOLS are less likely to fail if they group together as part of an academy trust, according to a Government-appointed schools chief.

Frank Green, the schools commissioner for England, spoke to an audience of about 100 Essex headteachers and governors yesterday.

He wants to encourage more of the county’s schools to become academies.

Academies are state-funded, but are free of direct control from Essex County Council, and have greater freedom over their curriculum.

Mr Green said: “The chances of schools failing falls when you put them in a trust.”

Concerns over primary school performance in Basildon has led to the town’s Basildon Excellence Panel being set up earlier this year. However, Mr Green said a more formal academy arrangement is more likely to provide results.

He said: “Generally, one of the things the academy process generates is a really strong reflection of vision, direction and aspirations.

“That is one of the powers which hasn’t always been possible when just working together in collaboration.

“If you come together as a trust you can ask more fundamental questions. It is a self-managing and self-improving system.”

There are presently 137 academy schools in Essex.

Across the county, 16 per cent of primary schools and 83 per cent of secondary schools are now academies, both among the highest proportions in England.