No academies u-turn announcement as Morgan dodges questions

Questions about the future role of local authorities in schools went unanswered as Nicky Morgan faced a grilling from MPs about plans to convert all schools into academies.

During education question time in the Commons this afternoon, the education secretary dodged several questions about reports that councils could be given the right to set up multi-academy trusts.

The proposed removal of schools from council oversight has been the source of much criticism of the academisation plan, especially from Conservative MPs and councillors, who have warned about the risk of serious consequences for small and specialist schools, especially in rural areas.

But Morgan insisted it was her desire to see “talented” officers from councils set up multi-academy trusts, rather than the authorities themselves, confirming what schools commissioner Sir David Carter has said in the past.

Nick Gibb MP
Nick Gibb MP

One of several fears raised by politicians about the white paper plans is that it could result in power being transferred away from local communities, with increasingly large and multi-regional academy trusts responsible for schools.

But Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has insisted that the policy represents “devolution in its purest form”, and denied claims by Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds that his government was executing a “top-down re-organisation of a public service” for political reasons.

“It is not a top down reform,” he said. “This is devolution in its purest form, giving control of schools to the professionals on the front line.”

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  1. Does Nick Gibb really believe that making all schools join MATs is devolution in its purest form?
    What is it with politicians? Is it a sign of political machismo to state the opposite of the truth and defend it vigorously? Like a “Just a Minute” panel show where you have to keep talking complete bullsh*t until a buzzer goes off.
    I am sick and tired of this verbiage. No-one can properly run 20,000 English Schools via 8 commissioners trying to keep in check feral MAT CEOs, but with Gibb and Morgan in charge it becomes a total farce.

    Gibb and Morgan have started to believe their own propaganda, and no amount of opposing views are going to make them change course. They would rather crash the DfE ship on the rocks than steer it to one side. Better to drown those teachers who “talk down the profession”, than look in the mirror and see yourself as the maniac ship’s captain.

  2. John Smith

    We need a ‘Politics First’ or ‘Politics For England’ to attract higher quality people into Parliament. This current frontbench do not exactly inspire excellence or show outstanding leadership.

  3. Morgan has already said there is no reverse gear so she has no option but to keep driving until she runs out of fuel or the engine blows up! There are a lot of very scared small rural primary schools who cannot see a home for them in this new world where MATs choose schools and will reject those that might tarnish the brand or be a drain on resources. I’ve never seen so much naked greed and ambition on display as the MAT CEO’s do back room deals on which schools they will and won’t take. And the galling thing is that there is no consideration at all of the impact on children’s education in all of this. If there were then there would have been careful scrutiny of the evidence to see whether this major disruption is justified. It isn’t. It needs to stop.

  4. My main concern is that once a school becomes an academy, it no longer belongs to the community. When a school becomes an academy, there really is no reverse gear. What becomes of academies in 10 or 20 years is anyone’s guess. MATs may combine with each other, academies may be bought, traded or simply closed with no local consultation.
    It is completely irresponsible for Nick Gibb to say it is devolution in it’s purest form. It’s a lie. Heads of schools in MATs have less autonomy than those supported by local authorities. Parents and communities simply have no say in how academies are run.