Hampshire education boss welcomes government's academies u-turn

HAMPSHIRE'S education boss has welcomed the government's announcement to scrap forcing all schools in the UK to become academies.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 6th May 2016, 9:13 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2016, 10:17 pm
Councillor Peter Edgar
Ian Hargreaves  (142526-1) PPP-151118-101727001
Councillor Peter Edgar Ian Hargreaves (142526-1) PPP-151118-101727001

Today saw education secretary Nicky Morgan backtracking on the Tory-led proposal, which had infuriated teachers across the nation.

Mrs Morgan said the move demonstrated the government was listening, adding ministers understood top schools should retain the choice on whether to convert.

The decision comes days after threats of industrial action by head teachers.

Hampshire County Council’s education boss, councillor Peter Edgar has since welcomed the news, saying it prevented an ‘extremely costly’ revolution in the way Britain’s children would have been taught.

In a statement today, he said: ‘This is a major step forward and is to be welcomed. In fact, it largely reinstates Hampshire County Council’s successful and pragmatic education reform policy on which we were complimented by Ofsted and the Prime Minister.

‘This will lead to a common sense evolution in education keeping what is best in local authority partnerships with schools, rather than a revolution which could have been extremely costly and led to good or outstanding local education authorities to disappear.’

Academies are independently run – but state-funded – schools, overseen by a not-for-profit business, known as an academy trust. They are often part of a chain.

The controversial proposals to require all schools to convert to academy status, or have plans to do so, by 2022 were announced in the Budget.

Speaking today, Mrs Morgan said: ‘This is about being a listening government and I would consider myself to be a listening secretary of state.

‘Better to have reforms than have none at all.

‘We absolutely support those strong local authorities where schools are good and outstanding - they can make the choice to convert.

‘I hope that they will, because we are convinced that becoming academies does lift standards but they can do the right thing for them and I think that reflects the concerns and the conversations that we have had.’