Resistance of teachers, parents and MPs pays off as Morgan admits no love for key policy
EDUCATION Secretary Nicky Morgan announced yesterday that her flagship plans to force all schools to become academies had been scuppered.
The embarrassing U-turn follows almost two months of heated resistance from teachers, parents, Labour and even fellow Tory MPs.
Her scheme to force around 17,000 English schools to accept academy status were originally published in Chancellor George Osborne’s March Budget.
The Tories expected to have taken the schools out of local authorities’ control by 2020 and the announcement does not mean the end of Ms Morgan’s campaign.
“I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools become academies,” she said.
“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 government still plans to force conversion to an academy in situations where local authorities can no longer support the non-academies left or operate schools that continuously fail performance assessments.
Labour shadow education secretary Lucy Powell welcomed the Tories’ U-turn, but said: “There remain enormous challenges facing our schools under the Tories.
“Their fixation with structures has distracted school leaders and created panic in the schools system, at the expense of raising standards.
“This government’s failed approach to education is letting down our children and will hold back young people for years to come.”
Two-thirds of English secondary schools have already been turned into academies, with 15,000 local authority schools remaining.
National Union of Teachers deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “This is a huge government climb-down and is a testament to the campaigning of teachers and parents.”
He noted that it was the third major government U-turn since the Tories came to power.
“It is time to end this ideological nonsense from this discredited government.”