POLITICS

'Forced' Academies: Nicky Morgan Ducks Questions On U-Turn Despite More Pressure

Education Secretary says she'll 'finish the job'

25/04/2016 18:21
Parliament TV

Nicky Morgan has refused to spell out any Government concessions over "forced" academies as the defiant Education Secretary said she was "going to finish the job".

Ministers have come under fire from fellow Conservatives for their plan to turn all state schools in to academies by 2020, or have plans to do so by 2022, which would strip them of local council control.

But despite suggestions the Government was willing to compromise and let some local education authorities oversee chains of academies, Morgan would not reveal any details of moderation to the policy while being given a rough ride in the House of Commons.

Faced with criticism from the Labour and Tory benches, the Secretary of State:

1. Made clear the Government would 'finish the job' started by Labour under Tony Blair

2. Faced a ministerial aide warning 'many' parents were 'concerned'

3. Dodged the question when asked directly about local authorities retaining some control

 4. Ducked whether the plan should be 'shelved' and championed schools working in clusters

 

Academies are state-controlled but free of local authority control. For any school that fails to have a plan in place, the Government will take on radical new powers to intervene and ensure academy conversion takes place.

The Huffington Post reported two weeks ago how the Tory backbencher Stewart Jackson labelled the flagship reform “rushed, ill-thought out and flawed”.

He told HuffPost UK today: “It’s a positive development that ministers are listening to widespread concerns but I think we’d all like to see more details.”

 

Last week, Jeremy Corbyn launched a fierce attack on David Cameron over the controversial reform as the Government offered the first sign of movement.

Corbyn said the Prime Minister was living in “fantasy land” over his £1.3 billion “top-down re-organisation”.

Though Cameron’s defence of the policy in the Commons was robust, making clear he wanted to “complete the work” started by Labour under Tony Blair, his official spokesman suggested there was room for manoeuvre.

The spokesman said: “I think the thing to make clear is that with the timetable we are talking about a six year period. It’s a long period of time. Clearly there’s time to discuss these issues and look at these issues.

“(Education Secretary) Nicky Morgan has already been having discussions with colleagues, with teachers, with local authorities. The goal is very clear but people are giving the impression that this is happening overnight.  We are talking 2022.”

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