Cameron plans to convert ‘coasting’ schools to academies

2 Feb 15
Over 3,300 ‘coasting’ schools could be taken over by academy chains or have their head teachers replaced if they do not improve, Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.

By Richard Johnstone | 2 February 2015

Over 3,300 ‘coasting’ schools could be taken over by academy chains or have their head teachers replaced if they do not improve, Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.

Setting out proposals to improve school standards if the Conservatives win May’s general election, Cameron said the party would focus on schools that were not improving fast enough.
Currently around 3,320 schools are rated by Ofsted as ‘requiring improvement’ – 720 secondaries and more than 2,600 primaries.
A future Conservative government would ‘wage an all-out war on mediocrity’ in England’s schools, the prime minister said, but teaching unions called for an end to the policy of converting schools to academies.

In his speech, Cameron said where schools were failing to move beyond the ‘requires improvement’ rating – which is above ‘inadequate’ but below both ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ in Ofsted's ratings – action would be taken to improve performance.

Under the plans, schools with this rating would automatically be considered for academy status unless they can prove they have ‘a clear plan for rapid improvement’.

As well as converting these schools to academies, they could also be taken over by high-achieving local schools, while schools that are already academies would be given new sponsors.

‘No-one wants their child to go to a failing school and no-one wants them to go to a coasting school either,’ he said.

‘Just enough is not good enough. That means no more sink schools and no more 'bog standard' schools either. Our aim is this: the best start in life for every child, wherever they're from – no excuses.’
Responding to the plans, Kevin Courtney, the deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that reports last week from the
education select committee and the Public Accounts Committee had criticised the academies and free schools programme.

‘It really is time that this Emperor’s new clothes approach to education stopped,’ he said.

‘It has failed on standards, failed on transparency, failed on accountability and failed to secure the trust of the public. It is a disgrace that the government has allowed such a situation to develop and is turning a deaf ear to the serious concerns raised by such a wide range of people.’

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers said children and young people deserved better than more academisation.

‘Parents and the public will be deeply disappointed that the Conservatives are still clinging to such a policy and the charade of using Ofsted to justify it when there is no evidence that it raises standards,’ she said.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the government’s current policies were failing to close the gap between disadvantaged children and the rest.

‘Many parents will be shocked to learn that David Cameron’s government has changed the rules to allow unqualified teachers into the classroom on a permanent basis, leading to a 16 per cent rise in the last year alone,’ he stated.

‘The surest way to raise standards in every lesson, in every school, is to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom.’


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