New Education Bill lays out plans to turn all ‘failing’ schools into academies

The aim of the bill is to “sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes” and speed up the process of converting schools into academies. The government have claimed that in the past campaigners had too often delayed conversion, which has left pupils ‘languishing’ in under performing schools schools.

The number of schools to be converted will depend on future Ofsted findings, but it is thought that up to 1,000 schools could be taken over under the new bill.

The bill also extends to schools deemed as ‘coasting’. If a school is rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofted, the school will be given support to improve standards. If they cannot demonstrate improvement, or produce a plan for improvement, then they too could be converted into an academy.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Today’s landmark bill will allow the best education experts to intervene in poor schools from the first day we spot failure. It will sweep away the bureaucratic and legal loopholes previously exploited by those who put ideological objections above the best interests of children.

“At the heart of our commitment to delivering real social justice is our belief that every pupil deserves an excellent education and that no parent should have to be content with their child spending a single day in a failing school.

“Hundreds of schools, often in disadvantaged areas, are already being turned around thanks to the help of strong academy sponsors - education experts who know exactly what they have to do to make a failing school outstanding. This bill will allow them to do their job faster and more effectively, ensuring that thousands more pupils, from across the country, get the world class education they deserve.”

A number of head teachers and educational professionals working within academies have expresses support for the new measures.

Steve Lancashire, CEO of REAch2, which from September will sponsor 51 schools across the country, said: “Just one day in a failing school is one day too many and so any move to accelerate the process for failing schools to become academies is an important part of this and something that will be a very positive step forward for families across the country.”

However, the new bill has not been received positively by everyone in the education sector. Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, released a statement criticising the new bill. She said:
“A change in structure is not axiomatically the path to school improvement. It is irresponsible to tell parents otherwise… Head teachers are already in short supply, so the promise to sack more of them will simply exacerbate the problem. Where does Nicky Morgan imagine that new teachers and heads will come from?

“The Government justifies this extended and accelerated privatisation of our school system by claiming that it cares about standards. Yet there is now a mountain of evidence which shows that there is no academy effect on standards in schools.”

Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has responded by warning that “academisation is not a magic wand”. He said: “There is no doubt that an effective and rapid programme of intervention needs to be put in place when a school is rated as ‘inadequate’. Every child deserves an excellent education and every effort must be made to address problems where they happen.

“In many cases, academisation may be the best solution. However, in itself it is not a magic wand. Schools fail for a number of reasons and simply changing their structure may not address the whole picture.”

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