Hampshire education boss attacks plan to change all schools to academies

The Hampshire councillor in charge of education today criticised Government plans to force all schools to become academies.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 16th March 2016, 8:28 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th March 2016, 9:44 am

Cllr Peter Edgar said he was ‘horrified’ by the proposal, which is expected to be outlined in the Chancellor’s Budget statement today.

The Department for Education is expected to publish draft legislation as early as tomorrow to end the role of local councils as providers of education.

But Cllr Edgar, the Gosport councillor who is Hampshire’s education executive, said: ‘This would be a massively costly exercise - and 84 per cent of our schools are good or outstanding.

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‘It is totally illogical to take a quality education authority and try to destroy it.

Speaking to The News, Cllr Edgar added: ‘This is like the campaign to save Gosport’s Royal Hospital Haslar all over again. It’s the greatest campaign in the last 11 years. I have never had so much media interest. I suppose if you take on your party when you are a life-long Conservative, that’s what happens.

‘It will be incredibly disruptive to force schools along this route. The headteachers I speak to are horrified by this prospect.’

Last year David Cameron said he wanted “every school an academy and yes, local authorities running schools a thing of the past”.

Turning schools into academies would spell the end of the national curriculum and pay regulations for teachers, as academy schools are exempt from both.

The plans come in the wake of a report by the Policy Exchange think tank, which proposed the conversion of all primary schools into academies and then asked each to join an academy ‘chain’ within the next four years.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is expected to give more details on the plans when she addresses the Commons on Thursday.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that with eight out of 10 maintained schools rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by regulator Ofsted, it ‘defies reason that councils are being portrayed as barriers to improvement’.

It called for the government to concentrate on the quality of education, rather than ‘the legal status of a school’.