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07/05/2016 - Government U-turn on academies

uturnpermittedIn a dramatic U-turn Tory Education Secretary Nicky Morgan haa announced plans to force all schools to become academies had been shelved.

The scheme to force around 17,000 English schools to accept academy status were originally published in Chancellor George Osborne’s March Budget.

The Tories forecast that they would have taken the schools out of local authorities’ control by 2020.

Academies are independently run - but state-funded - schools, overseen by a not-for-profit business, known as an academy trust. They are often part of a chain.

Putting the best spin possible on the climbdown Nicku Morgan said:

“I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools become academies."

“However, having listened to the feedback from parliamentary colleagues and the education sector we will now change the path to reaching that goal.”

Schools whose performance is in “good standing” will no longer be required to accept conversion.

“I hope that they will, because we are convinced that becoming academies does lift standards,” Ms Morgan said.

Teachers said there was no evidence for her claim. The Local Government Association said its recent analysis of the grades achieved by all schools proved that 81% of council-maintained schools are rated as "good" or "outstanding", compared to 73% of academies and 79% of free schools.

The government still plans to force conversion to an academy in two situations:-

* Where it is clear that the local authority can no longer viably support its remaining schools because too many schools have already become academies.

* Where the local education authority consistently fails to meet a minimum performance threshold across its schools.

Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented:

"It was opposition within the Conservative Party to this ideologically driven top-down diktat that scuppered the plans. Many Conservatives just didn't see the point in what the Government proposed and were worried about the effects on rural schools in particular. It is very welcome news that Nicky Morgan has listened to them and the many critics in the profession and amended these extreme and unnecessary plans."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said: "We are pleased the government has listened to the profession."