Sam Clayden 18 May 2016

Queen's Speech 2016: Education Bill could lead to 'backdoor academisation'

Queens Speech 2016: Education Bill could lead to backdoor academisation image

A new Bill unveiled in the Queen’s speech today will legislate for the academisation of all maintained schools.

Nicky Morgan seemingly backtracked on plans to force the conversion of all schools earlier this month.

However, Queen Elizabeth II has today announced the Education for All Bill, which will move the country ‘towards a system where all schools are academies,’ according to the background notes.

Schools will be converted to academies in the ‘worst performing local authorities and those that can no longer viably support their remaining schools, so that a new system led by good and outstanding schools can take their place’.

Several MPs and the local government sector have been strongly opposed to the forced academisation of all maintained schools, claiming there was no evidence conversion improved high performing schools.

Concerns have been raised that cuts to school improvement funding could lead to councils becoming 'unviable' by 2020.

Education committee member Ian Mearns told The MJ Ms Morgan’s U-turn was more of a ‘holding operation’ to buy the Government time and ‘diffuse disarray’ on its backbenches.

Education services grant (ESG) is expected to be cut by 81% by 2018/19 but its phasing out was based on the presumption that all maintained schools would become academies by 2022.

County Councils’ Network finance spokesman David Borrow warned the Government would ‘continue to squeeze funding available to councils’ to provide school support services.

He said cutting ESG ‘to a point whereby it’s almost non-existent will stop local authorities supporting their schools and communities’.

Mr Mearns claimed the reduction of ESG could lead to maintained schools falling into the Government’s definition of ‘unviable’ and therefore becoming at risk of academisation even if they are performing well.

He said: ‘It is inevitable all schools will have to convert. This back door academisation is wrong on so many levels.’

The Brownfield Land Release Fund image

The Brownfield Land Release Fund

To what extent does this early initiative of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities deliver on the ‘levelling up’ agenda? Lawrence Turner reports.
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