Thomas Bridge 18 May 2015

Academies are 'better' than council run schools, says education secretary

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has prompted an angry response from teachers after claiming academies are better run than council controlled schools.

Morgan this weekend announced a string of new measures to tackle failing and 'coasting' schools would be set out in the upcoming Queen's Speech, including laws forcing sites requiring intervention to convert into an academy.

She pledged to close loopholes that have slowed the creation of academy schools independent to their local authority while creating 500 new free schools, which are state funded yet opened by a sponsor such as a business or parent group.

Morgan told the BBC that she thought academies were a 'better kind of school' than a town hall controlled one, adding that 'we can see in the results that actually students do better in academies - both at Key Stage 2, that's the end of primary school, and also in GCSEs'.

'Why is it that in some schools students are reaching their full potential and in other schools they're not?' she said. 'Where heads show that they absolutely have the capacity to improve, they have a plan, they're working with their governors, we want to give them time to do that. But where it is clear that a school does not have the capacity or the plan to get themselves out of requires improvement or to be helping their students to fulfil their potential, to make their progress, then yes we will intervene - we will put in support.'

However deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Kevin Courtney, branded the Government's academies programme an 'unproved experiment' and urged ministers to tackle child poverty and inequality.

'There is no convincing evidence that the academies programme has improved education overall or for disadvantaged children,' he said.

'Proposals to sack even more head teachers will exacerbate the teacher and head teacher supply problems that have become evident in the last years of the Coalition Government. These problems will continue and get worse unless the Government changes course.

'As the new secretary of state, Nicky Morgan should be using her office to argue for protection of the education budget - schools are facing 10% cuts. This, the teacher shortage and the failure to provide enough school places should be her main concerns - not continuing with these unproved experiments.

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