Government tries to quietly backtrack on academies — everyone notices

High-performing schools will no longer be forced to become academies


After weeks of insisting it would stick to its guns, government has backtracked on its plan to force all English schools to become academies.

The climbdown follows criticism from headteachers (who threatened industrial action), councils, parents, opposition MPs and rebellious Tories.

The announcement does not represent a complete reversal of the policy announced in February’s budget. While schools will not be legally compelled to become academies, and high-performing schools will have a choice, conversion of all schools in an area will be triggered if the council is underperforming or can no longer run financially viable schools.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan commented:

“I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools become academies. However, having listened to the feedback from parliamentary colleagues and the education sector, we will now change the path to reaching that goal.”

While the government is trying to present the decision as a mere change of direction, in reality it is another spectacular u-turn on policies outlined in the budget and further discredits George Osborne’s approach.

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