Sam Clayden 16 March 2016

Budget 2016: All schools to be converted into academies

Fixating on giving schools independence will not generate improvement in education standards, local government representatives have warned.

In his Budget speech today, chancellor George Osborne laid out plans to convert every primary and secondary school in the country into academies by 2020.

He said: ‘We are going to complete the task of setting schools free from local education bureaucracy, and we’re going to do it in this Parliament.’

But the Local Government Association (LGA) has opposed the plans, saying there was no evidence schools performed better in the hands of academies.

Chair of the LGA’s children and young people board Cllr Roy Perry claimed only 15% of academy chains perform above the national average compared to to 44% of councils, the LGA claimed.

Cllr Perry said it ‘defied reason’ that councils were being portrayed as 'barriers to improvement'.

He said: ‘With mixed evidence about academisation improving standards and when public spending is facing significant cuts imposing academisation on schools regardless of local opinion cannot be an appropriate use of public money.’

Association of Directors of Children’s Service (ADCS) vice president Dave Hill has warned that turning schools into academies could be counterproductive, ‘adding further confusion to an increasingly disjointed school system leaving our most challenging pupils at risk of slipping through the cracks’.

Associate director for public services at Institute for Public Policy Research Jonathan Clifton said: ‘The government is arguing that England’s schools need more autonomy in order to match the best in the world.

‘But England already has the third most autonomous school system in the world, while it lags in 23rd place on pupil performance.

‘Fixating on giving schools independence is unlikely to generate any improvement in education standards”.

The chancellor also announced plans to focus on the performance of schools in the north, where results had ‘not been as strong as we’d like’.

He said: ‘London’s school system has been turned around and we can do the same in the Northern Powerhouse.

‘I’ve asked outstanding Bradford head teacher Sir Nick Weller to provide us with a plan.’

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