Jonathan Werran 03 June 2015

Councils forced to convert 1,000 'inadequate' schools into academies

New measures will force councils to convert schools rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted into academies.

Setting out the Education and Adoption Bill, which was announced in the Queen’s Speech last week, education secretary Nicky Morgan, claimed the ‘landmark Bill will allow the best education experts to intervene in poor schools from the first day we spot failure’.

‘It will sweep away the bureaucratic and legal loopholes previously exploited by those who put ideological objections above the best interests of children,’ Ms Morgan added.

The Department for Education has claimed the measures outlined today would allow the Government to tackle every local authority maintained school given an ‘inadequate’ rating – a figure that officials estimate could be as high as 1,000.

Since 2010 the Government has successfully intervened in around half of such schools, and ministers hope the new legislation would curtail the ability of campaigners to block or delay the takeover of schools by education experts working for academy sponsors.

The Bill will also include previously announced powers to overhaul ‘coasting’ schools, with a consultation on proposals to be set out in the summer.

In response, Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said councils were already turning around hundreds of schools - often in disadvantated areas.

'It’s clear that strong leadership, outstanding classroom teaching and effective support staff and governors are the crucial factors in transforming standards in struggling schools,' Cllr Simmonds said.

'We want to see bureaucratic barriers that have for a long time prevented councils from intervening swept away,' he added. Cllr Simmonds also expressed worry about emerging evidence of a shortage of head teachers.

'We need to ensure that we focus our resources on ensuring there are enough outstanding school leaders, rather than on structures and legal status, as it is this which makes the difference we all want to see.'

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