Cameron: Legislation to force schools to become academies will be in Queen’s Speech

Legislation to force all state schools in England to become academies will be announced in the Queen’s Speech, David Cameron has confirmed.

The prime minister told MPs in parliament this afternoon that “we are going to have academies for all, and it will be in the Queen’s Speech”.

The announcement on May 18 is expected to include the legal process the government will use to force any schools which don’t convert of their own accord to make the change.

Under the government’s plans, announced by the chancellor George Osborne in his budget last month, all schools will have to become academies by 2022. Those which haven’t either converted or made plans to do so by 2020 will be forced to make the change.

Current legislation only allows the government to force those schools deemed to be coasting or failing to convert, but the new legislation will extend these powers to all schools.

Cameron made the announcement during a grilling by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who called for a u-turn on the proposals, which have been criticised across the political divide.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan also dodged questions about a potential u-turn on Monday after several news outlets reported plans to give councils the power to start multi-academy trusts.

Some observers, including shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, have speculated that the power of compulsion might not feature in the legislation, and could instead be “camouflaged amongst other measures”.

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  1. Bob Johnson

    Academies were introduced by Labour as a school improvement measure. That is not to say that it was a good idea, but it is miles away from the idea that all schools should be ripped away from local authority control and accountability, and into “independent” hands. It needs to be explained how and by whom the use of some £50 Billion pounds of annual recurrent public funding will be assessed, and what measures will be brought into place to ensure that the non municipal propriety of these assessments will be established. The funding arrangements for academy and academy chain operation are far too opaque as things stand. £50 Billion a year is an enormous sum of tax payers money and it needs to be possible for taxpayers to ascertain how it is spent by those running Academies. The public have a right to know that this money is being spent on their childrens’ education and not on BMWs for a new breed of overpaid Academy Principals or so called Chief Executives of Academy Chains. There are also many questions to be asked about how Academies and chains of Academies go about there procurement of goods and services. There is a significant risk that without proper regulation and auditing there will emerge widespread corruption and failure of due diligence in connection with such expenditure.

    Finally in the absence of any significant evidence that Academy conversion of itself raises standards, in spite of all the assertions, if all schools are simply to be called academies there will inevitably be bog standard academies performing less well than others. It will then be necessary to seek a means by which failing academies can be improved.

    • Michael Griffiths

      There is a lot of evidence that increased autonomy and increased accountability raises standards at an international level. This is the point. Our education system has to compete at an international level if we want to stay competitive as a nation. Developing our young people to compete in a digital world where boundaries will become meaningless is crucial. that is why the referendum debate is in many ways meaningless. The problem is we define good or outstanding by Ofsted measures which are national. We have no real concept of world class education in the state sector. If aspire to being a modern internationally competitive economy increased autonomy with intelligent accountability is essential.

      Where the previous writer makes important points is in the area of oversight and proberty. The new levels of autonomy will require much more rigorous and sophisticated non-executive governance. Everyone needs a boss and governance is possibly too weak to challenge CEOs and hold them to account effectively. The procurement problems are unacceptable.

      There was no evidence that the world was round or that electricity was important. Innovation requires calculated risk. Continuous improvement is crucial. The attitude that says if it is not broken don’t fix it is fatal in the modern world. There is another attitude that if it is not broken you have not looked hard enough. In modern organisations something always needs improving or fixing. Let us move on from this being an either/or internal national debate to a debate that Focusses on the necessities of what our children need to contribute to the international world of the future.

  2. So much for ‘evidence based’. We’ve been constantly told from the day Gove arrived at the DfE and beyond his tenure that policies would be founded on evidence. This is untrue. The evidence shows academies as a group are no better than non-academies. The evidence shows academy conversion isn’t the best way to improve schools (the National Audit Office found the opposite). The evidence shows Michael Gove was in favour of running schools for profit and the document he was championing, ‘Blocking the Best’ by Policy Exchange, said turning state schools into ones that were technically ‘independent’ would allow them to outsource to for-profit education providers. Academies, are, of course, technically independent.
    But this evidence is ignored, either deliberately or by politicians who are so blinkered and ignorant they will ignore it.