Thomas Bridge 23 September 2014

Convert all schools to academies, says right wing think tank

All council primary and secondary schools should be converted to academies over the next five years, according to a right wing think tank.

A report from policy exchange – which was established by former education secretary Michael Gove – has said the move would help improve education standards in reading, writing and maths.

Local authorities were also urged to set up their own academy chains or trusts, providing education services legally separate from other council functions.

Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange said: ‘A potential perfect storm of a new curriculum and assessment system and a demand for higher standards accompanied by a decline in leadership and local authority capacity means that thousands of primary schools could be set to fail come 2016.

‘Bringing schools together in Academy chains is what is needed. And whilst there are some already moving in this direction, simply leaving it up to individual schools risks being too slow.’

However the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Christine Blower, branded the plan ‘absurd’, stating recommendations had ‘nothing to do with standards but everything to do with opening up further a free market for education’.

Commenting on the report, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said: ‘NAHT is strongly opposed to the forced ‘academisation’ of schools. The report is right to emphasise the unsustainability of forced academisation. This process has tarnished the academy brand among primary schools, possibly beyond redemption.

‘Academy chains do not offer the only effective means of collaboration, nor does structural change offer the only potential for raising standards.’

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