Monday, March 20, 2023

Government U-Turn on forced academies

ESSEX County Council has welcomed the Government’s decision to abandon plans to force all schools to become academies.

In a letter sent to Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan MP, last week, Cllr Ray Gooding, the council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, had raised a number of concerns about the proposals.

He is delighted the Government has listened to feedback from schools and local authorities.

He said: “We have always been supportive of the concept of academies and accept they can be a good option in driving up standards in schools, but they are not a magic solution.

“Our letter to the Education Secretary last week outlined that we would much rather schools continue to choose for themselves whether to go down the academy route and I am pleased the Government has listened.”

As well as the loss of freedom of choice for schools, communities and parents, Cllr Gooding had also raised concerns about the potential lack of public accountability and democracy, and cast doubts about how standards in schools would be scrutinised.

In Essex, 66 per cent of the county’s 549 schools have yet to become academies, with 85 per cent of maintained schools currently rated as good or outstanding, compared with 84 per cent of academies.

Following the Government’s re-think, Cllr Gooding is now hoping schools and local authorities will be invited to play an active role in the re-writing of the Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper.

He said: “A lot of the ideas outlined in the white paper made good sense and I would welcome the opportunity to engage constructively in helping to reshape the Government’s proposals.

“We have made some fantastic progress in Essex in recent years and remain committed to ensuring all pupils receive the best possible education.”


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