Education secretary Nicky Morgan says her ambition for the next five years is “spreading the excellence in schools we’ve unlocked over the last five years everywhere in the country”.
She told an audience at the Sunday Times Festival of Education that the reforms in the last five years had “seen the unleasing of some truly excellent practice”, including “building on Andrew Adonis’s fledgling academies programme”.
The education and adoption bill due to receive its second reading next week would focus on “consistent improvement and spreading excellence”, she said in her speech at Wellington College in Berkshire.
Ms Morgan added: “We’re at a new record high on the number of these ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools – but this should not stop us from going even further.”
But recent Schools Week analysis of the number of the latest Ofsted inspection outcome data, from April, shows there are 133 academies rated as inadequate.
Morgan answered questions from the audience. She was asked by Nick Linford, from Schools Week’s publisher Lsect, if she did not know the number of failing academies or did not want to reveal the number when asked by the BBC.
Schools Week later revealed the number and Morgan then told MPs the figure of 133, when asked in parliamentary questions.
She said today: “I was there to talk about the education and adoption bill. I was going to talk about that. We don’t hesitate to intervene in academies that are failing and we have the power to do that. Whereas local authority maintained schools can languish in special measures for over a year.”
`Education was the greatest way to “level the playing field” and give every child the chance to reach their full potential, she said.
The government had “committed to deliver real social justice and in no arena more than education do we have such potential to realise it”, she added.
Ms Morgan said it would be the most disadvantaged who would lose out if “we lose sight of the fundamental knowledge and skills that form the heart of a rigorous curriculum”.
“It’s those children for whom a good education matters most – children growing up in families where their parents and carers haven’t had the same opportunities so many of us enjoy.”
She said that was why she announced earlier this week that every child starting in year 7 in September will be expected to study core academic subjects that make up the EBacc up to GCSE. The five subjects are English, maths, science , history or geography and a modern foreign language (MFL).
She said free schools such as ARK Conway Academy were “providing an outstanding and innovative education to some of the country’s most disadvantaged children”.
But she said that pockets of under-performance “persist in coastal and rural areas and even in some of our leafy suburbs schools who have the capability to be really excellent but are just coasting along.”