The controversial plans to require all schools to convert to academy status, or have plans to do so, by 2022 were detailed in the education white paper in March. The plans were immediately met with opposition from MPs, teachers, school leaders and education experts.
The government has now abandoned plans to force all schools in England to become academies.
While still maintaining a determination to see all schools become academies in the next six years, there will no longer be any legislation to bring about blanket conversion of all schools to achieve this goal.
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said:
I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools to become academies. However, having listened to the feedback from Parliamentary colleagues and the education sector we will now change the path to reaching that goal.
Schools judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted will no longer have to become academies. However, the government said it would continue to push forward academy conversions where:
- It is clear that the local authority can no longer viably support its remaining schools because too many schools have already become academies
- The local education authority consistently fails to meet a minimum performance threshold across its schools
Morgan says government is “about listening”.
However, Shadow Education Secretary, Lucy Powell (pictured right), described the U-turn as “humiliating” for both Morgan and the Prime Minister.
“There remains enormous challenges facing our schools under the Tories, and their fixation with structures has distracted school leaders and created panic in the schools system, at the expense of raising standards,” she added.
While the decision to abandon plans to to force all schools to become academies has been met with joy, the government has been accused of ‘burying bad news’ by announcing this U-turn on the same day as election results.
When asked whether ministers had tried to “bury” the announcement on a busy day for news, Cabinet Minister, Michael Fallon, said it would not have been “legally” possible to issue it in the preceding days because of the “purdah” restrictions of the activities of civil servants in election periods.
Read the policy paper here.