04/01/2012 04:39 GMT | Updated 04/01/2012 10:39 GMT

Academies Critics Are The 'Enemies Of Promise', Says Michael Gove

Critics of the government's academies programme are the "enemies of promise", Michael Gove said today, as he pushes ahead with plans to transform 200 of the worst performing primary schools..

The education secretary accused local authorities that stand in the way of his plans of being "happy with failure".

Gove has said the government will not hesitate to use its powers under the Academies Act 2010 to require schools to convert to academies if they are consistently failing.

In a speech at the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College in south-east London, an "all-through" academy educating children aged from three to 18, Gove will said that while most councils are co-operating with his department's reform programme, some are being obstructive and intent on using the ideology of central control ahead of the interests of children.

Gove said: "The same ideologues who are happy with failure - the enemies of promise - also say you can't get the same results in the inner cities as the leafy suburbs so it's wrong to stigmatise these schools.?

"Let's be clear what these people mean. Let's hold their prejudices up to the light.

"What are they saying? 'If you're poor, if you're Turkish, if you're Somali, then we don't expect you to succeed. You will always be second class and it's no surprise your schools are second class'.

"I utterly reject that attitude."

But general secretary of the national union of teachers Christine Blower accused him of "bullying" schools: “If academy status brought the benefits claimed by the Government why have so few of England's schools opted to convert?

“The forced academy programme is about bullying schools into academy status against the wishes of school communities and their local authorities who are best placed to judge what support any particular school may need, not an external sponsor with an eye to the future profits to be made out of the Government's programme of privatising England's schools.

“The academy programme is wrecking local education authority services to schools, including school improvement services. Each time a school becomes an academy, funding is removed from the LEA, reducing services and support to remaining schools.

“It has nothing to do with school improvement but is part of an ideologically driven agenda to dismantle our current system of local accountability for education.”

Around 1,300 primary schools in England fail minimum "floor standards" set out by the government.

These are having fewer than 60% of pupils reaching a basic level in English and maths at age 11 and children making below-average progress between the ages of seven and 11.

Around 150 primary schools have been achieving below these "floor standards" for five years in a row, according to primary school league tables released last month.

The government also released its latest figures for academies on Wednesday. There are now 1,529 academies, compared with only 200 when the coalition came to power. Of those, 1,194 have been converted from schools, while 335 have been sponsored.