Education white paper would see most schools in multi-academy trusts

17 Mar 16

The “vast majority” of schools will be part of multi-academy trusts by 2022, education secretary Nicky Morgan said today as she set out the government’s reform plans.

Further details of plans to remove all schools from local authority control were included in white paper published by the Department for Education today. This stated that all schools should either become academies, or be in the process of converting to academy status, by the end of 2020.

It proposed that by the end of 2022, local authorities would no longer maintain schools. This change is intended to give children and parents a greater role in holding provision to account, Morgan said.

Following conversion, most schools will be part of multi-academy trusts, which would allow them to share resources, staff and expertise.

Morgan said progress had been made since 2010, with 1.4 million more children now attending good or outstanding schools compared to 2010, but the new system of “supported autonomy” would take areas of underperformance.

The reforms will be supported by £640m over four years that was confirmed in yesterday’s Budget to help with conversion costs and to introduce a new national funding formula.

Morgan said the changes would also mean that where a school is struggling, action could be taken sooner than is currently the case.

“This white paper is about ensuring that all of us can play the role that we do best, it’s a blueprint for how we can work together, not just to improve standards, important though that is, but to create a fundamentally different education system - an education system fit for the 21st century, an education system which is truly focused on the future.”

A new parent portal will provide information on school performance as well as guidance on how the school system works in order to empower parents to hold schools and the system to account.

Morgan said this would provide parents “with everything they need to understand their children’s education” including how to raise complaints and what the options are available to them.

Responding to the measures, Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the white paper would do nothing to address the pressing issues in the sector.
“Most fundamentally, the government shows no sign of recognising that there is a huge gap between its rhetoric of ‘raising the quality and status’ of the teaching profession, and the daily experience of schools.”

Many schools, including the overwhelming majority of primaries, have made a positive choice to remain maintained by their local authority, she highlighted.

“This white paper’s proposals to turn all schools into academies will abolish that choice and instead impose an authoritarian central government diktat on schools.”

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said the best that can be said of the white paper was that it represents a veiled admission by the government of the failure of its school reforms since 2010.

“It is clear that the sun has set on the government’s vision of head teachers as “captains of their ship”, to be replaced by a mantra of “supported autonomy” that will have profound implications for how schools are led and managed over the next period,” she stated.

“The white paper also proposes to increase the layers of accountability to which schools are subject, which will do little to assuage the fears of many schools or make the jobs of teaching and school leadership any more attractive or deliverable.”


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