Academisation is still the DfE agenda – there is no U turn

The DfE may indeed be just about the most inept department in Whitehall when it comes to actually running anything. But no one can deny that its superb at spin. Their ability to persuade the media that black is really white never ceases to impress.

Just a few weeks ago it published the notorious White Paper “Education Excellence Everywhere”. At its heart was delivery on the pledge made by Cameron and Osbourne to achieve total academisation and to end the local authority role in the school system. As is often the case with this government, they don’t seem to have seen the storm coming. Tory councils were outraged and backbenchers queued up to condemn the proposals.

So on the day after the local elections, out comes the news – U turn – compulsory academisation abandoned – panic over – everyone can calm down and forget all about it.

But in reality this was a brilliant example of how to get the media almost universally looking in the wrong direction. Claims of victory for the opponents of academisation fed into that narrative but were sadly misjudged. In reality, the destination is unchanged – only the route to it has been tweaked. It is still the case that:

  • Under the Education and Adoption Act all schools found to be inadequate by Ofsted will be made academies (except of course many of them are already!)
  • Under the same Act, “coasting” schools can be made into academies
  • All schools in underperforming LA’s will be made into academies
  • All schools in LAs where a lot of schools are already academies will be forced down that route.

On the Local Schools Network, Henry Stewart has looked at which local authorities will be affected by the last two proposals – see http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/05/a-u-turn-or-a-different-approach-to-forcing-thousands-of-schools-to-become-academies. It seems likely to be a nakedly political process designed to pacify Tory local authorities and small rural schools.

But, make no mistake – there is no change in the objective and the reprieve for the Hampshire’s and Oxfordshire’s will only be short term. Sooner or later they will be in the firing line.

These proposals will require legislation so there is the opportunity to build resistance around the parliamentary process

On 25th May at 6.00 pm, SEA with its partners in the Reclaiming Education Alliance, is holding a meeting in the House of Commons to help to do just that. Speakers will include Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT. Details of the meeting and how to book your place are here:

http://www.reclaimingeducation.org.uk/

It’s really important to show we are not taken in by the DfE’s mind games. So if you possibly can, do come to this meeting and help plan the campaign against these proposals.

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