David Laws highlights continuing threat of forced academisation

David Laws is quoted in today’s Independent. The former Schools Minister is discussing a Centre Forum analysis of the Government’s education white paper.

Centre Forum says that the Government’s alleged u-turn will just mean that the process will happen anyway as local authorities are taken out of the picture if it’s not viable to run schools if, for example, a critical mass has converted to academy status.

New analysis of the revised strategy, however, suggests this will have accumulative effect on schools – as more schools are converted, more local authorities will be taken over as a result.

In effect, 100 per cent of schools will still be converted into academies by the year 2020 as planned.

David Laws, Executive Chairman of CentreForum, who published the report, said: “Our initial analysis shows that their proposals for new ‘triggers’ that lead to forced academisation in a local authority will in all likelihood lead to thousands of schools becoming academies as a result.”

The think tank said the analysis was dependent on the Government’s definition of what constitutes as an “underperforming local authority”, however – a concept which has not yet been defined by the department.

“The definitions are vague,” the report noted, “and our own analysis has shown that relatively small changes could have implications for hundreds of schools.”

“Given the combination of voluntary conversion, academisation under the Education and Adoption Act and direction at local authority it is possible that full academisation (or very close to it) could be achieved without forcing schools one at a time.”

Mr Laws added: “It remains the case that there is no definitive evidence that local authority schools which become an academy automatically improve”.

“It is however important to understand that the Government has only backed away from one aspect of its plans for forced academisation.”

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  • I’m very disappointed with David Laws about this. It’s not what you would expect from the Bete Noir of the SLF!

  • BBC NEWS today : “The head of a flagship multi-academy trust praised by the prime minister has resigned, leaving its five schools with an uncertain future. Chief executive of Birmingham’s Perry Beeches Academy Trust Liam Nolan is stepping aside so the trust “can move forward”, staff have been told. Two free schools due to be set up by the trust have been “paused”.

    The Education Funding Agency criticised the trust in March for “significant weakness in financial management”. Information from a whistleblower prompted the agency investigation, which found an additional salary of £160,000 was paid to Mr Nolan, over two years, through a third-party agreement – on top of his £120,000-a-year salary.

    Mr Nolan said he had enjoyed his time there – not surprising on £ 160,000 per year.

    I’d have been more impressed if Mr Laws had used his influence to stop academisation when in office instead opf stating the obvious now.

    Education should be returned to publicly accountable democratic local government. If not, what the heck are we bothering to get so excited about electing local Councillors for ?

  • @David Raw “Education should be returned to publicly accountable democratic local government. If not, what the heck are we bothering to get so excited about electing local Councillors for ?”

    The vast majority of the population don’t get excited about electing local councillors – one glance at the turnout figures for local elections tells us that.

    Why should schools be exclusively under the control of local authorities? Far too many of them are one party states elected by a tiny fraction of the electorate who use education to push their pet theories.

    The people to whom a school should be accountable are the teachers and the pupils; the latter by proxy to their parents.

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th May '16 - 3:03pm

    Pedants’ corner – acadEmisation.

    Hello, TCO. Had wondered where you’d gone.

    Still fail to under the rationality (maybe expecting some is the problem) of the Tories inisting on democratically elected PCCs to take over from police authories, but direct-appointed commissioners to take over from LEAs. why are the two distinct, within their own logic?

    I know this is quite possibly a stupid question, but the dissonance here baffles me.

  • Peter Watson 11th May '16 - 3:57pm

    I just noticed that the URL for this page refers to the threat of forced “macadamisation”.
    That conjures up an entirely different image.

  • Did we really need David Laws to point out the obvious? The rot set in with the introduction of free schools, which was always meant to be irreversible like so many Tory policies Laws voted for, as opposed to the fleeting Lib Dem crumbs of policy allowed through.

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