Over 1,000 ‘failing’ schools to be charters

Jun 2, 2015 by

Every school rated inadequate by Ofsted, up to 1,000 over five years, will become an academy, under a new bill to be published later.

Every school in England rated inadequate by Ofsted, up to 1,000 over five years, will become an academy, under a bill to be published later.

The Education and Adoption Bill will also scrap the requirement for academy sponsors to consult locally on whether they should take over schools.

The aim is to “sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes”, said Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Labour said the “divisive” bill missed the challenges faced by schools.

Pupils ‘languishing’

The government says campaigners have too often been able to delay or overrule the process by which schools deemed failing by Ofsted become academies.

Ministers believe debates surrounding some attempts to impose academy status result in too many pupils “languishing in underperforming schools”.

The bill sets out measures to turn 100% of failing schools into academies, double the current rate.

Some 235 schools are currently deemed to be failing, while 1,100 became sponsored academies over the course of the last Parliament.

The government estimates up to 1,000 more schools will become academies by 2020, if the bill is passed.

The measures include:

  • Regional schools commissioners taking over responsibility for making “directive academy orders” from the secretary of state
  • Duties on local authorities and governors issued with these orders to pursue academy status to a timescale
  • Scrapping the requirement for academy sponsors to consult with school communities, including parents
  • “Coasting” schools would be given notice to improve and offered support but could also have their heads replaced or be forced to become academies

The bill will allow the best education experts to intervene “from the first day we spot failure”, said Mrs Morgan.

“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.”

Mrs Morgan said hundreds of schools, often in disadvantaged areas, were already being turned around, “thanks to the help of strong academy sponsors”.

“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.”

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said Labour had founded the academies programme and continued to support new leadership for failing schools, “be they academies or maintained schools”.

“But these measures do not meet the challenges we face in education, such as preventing educational inequality setting in during the early years and ensuring high-quality teachers are attracted into poorly performing areas.

“It is very depressing to see the government’s partisan and divisive education policy continuing into this parliament.”

Academy chain leaders welcomed the plan.

Steve Lancashire, chief executive of REAch2 which from September will sponsor 51 schools across England called it a “very positive step forward for families across the country. It will mean no child is left behind.

“We welcome the opportunity that the bill will bring to engage with more schools, helping ensure that children get the first-class education they deserve.”

‘No magic wand’

But Brian Lightman, leader of the Association of School and College Leaders warned that taking over schools was not always a straightforward solution.

Rapid and effective intervention is needed when a school is rated inadequate, said Mr Lightman, and “in many cases academisation may be the best solution. However, in itself it is not a magic wand.”

Schools needs investment and support not ‘sanctions and threats’: NAHT leader Russell Hobby

National Association of Head Teachers leader Russell Hobby said the government had once again resorted to “sanctions and threats when our education system desperately needs investment and support.

“Parents who have campaigned against the opaque and centralised process of academisation will be dismayed to see themselves dismissed as obstacles to be eliminated.”

Dr Mary Bousted, leader of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said there was no clear evidence academies improved standards.

National Union of Teachers’ leader Christine Blower called the pledge to convert up to 1,000 schools “as irrational as it is impractical”.

“Head teachers are already in short supply so the promise to sack more of them will simply exacerbate the problem,” she said.

Source: All ‘failing’ schools to be academies under Education Bill – BBC News

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