Just over a week ago, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan signalled what was called a humiliating U-turn over her plans for forced academisation of all English schools, in the face of resistance from teachers, parents, and even some of her fellow Tory MPs.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, Morgan said:
“We have decided it’s not necessary to take blanket powers to convert good schools in strong local authorities to academies at this time.”
It’s easy to see why people thought from this that there had been a change of direction on this policy, but this statement was carefully worded.
Between the lines of it is a significant omission. Forced academisation of schools that are good or outstanding is very much still on the table; the decision will be based on the Ofsted rating of the Local Authority, and not how well an individual school is doing.
And indeed, Morgan has subsequently clarified this apparent u-turn in parliament:
“In some circumstances, that might involve the conversion of good and outstanding schools when they have not chosen to do so themselves.”
So the obvious question is which LAs are at risk of having all their schools, including the good and outstanding schools, turned into academies against the wishes of teachers & parents? This image from Schools Week highlights where the government may plan to introduce forced academisation first:
The vast majority of LAs Morgan is likely to turn her sights first are northern inner-city Labour-run LAs, including my LA, Salford City Council.
This is particularly significant, when you take into account the new funding formula for schools, which will reduce money available to inner-city schools, coupled with an overall real-terms reduction in school funding of 8% by 2020.
In light of all of this, it seems inevitable that good & outstanding inner-city schools in England will begin to be forced into becoming academies very soon, effectively turning our schools into privatised commodities, unless there is a true u-turn on this policy.
I believe this change will only happen if teachers, parents & politicians become coordinated & unite against this diktat from the Tory government, and speed is of the essence.