Controversial plans to force all schools to convert into academies have been scrapped by the new education secretary Justine Greening.
Councils had fiercely opposed the proposal, which was announced in the Queen’s Speech, claiming it focussed too heavily on structures.
In a statement to parliament Ms Greening said: ‘Our ambition remains that all schools should benefit from the freedom and autonomy that academy status brings. Our focus, however, is on building capacity in the system and encouraging schools to convert voluntarily.
‘No changes to legislation are required for these purposes and therefore we do not require wider education legislation in this session to make progress on our ambitious education agenda.’
Chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, Cllr Richard Watts, welcomed the announcement: ‘Councils have been clear from the outset that the proposals within the Bill focussed too heavily on structures, when our shared ambition is on improving education for all children.’
Councils have long argued that measures in the Bill went against evidence that council-maintained schools perform better than academies and free schools in Ofsted inspections, and that conversion to academies did not in itself lead to better results.
Cllr Watts added: ‘ ‘We also urge government to reverse plans to cut £600m from the Education Services Grant awarded to councils and academies next year.’