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Greening suggests end to plan for forced academisation

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The education secretary has suggested the government is to scrap a plan to force high-performing schools to become academies.

During her first appearance before the Commons education select committee today, Justine Greening said that she wanted to see all schools become academies “over time”, but added the government would currently focus on schools that are struggling.

In May, Ms Greening’s predecessor Nicky Morgan confirmed a government U-turn on a plan for all schools to be in the process of becoming academies by 2020.

But she said the government would intervene to convert poorly performing schools and when “it is clear” that a local authority could no longer support is schools because of a “critical mass” of academies in an area.

This raised the possibility that high-performing schools could face forced conversion.

Explaining the government’s approach, Ms Greening told the committee: “It is not just about schools becoming academies, it is also changes to the curriculum…and school-led improvement.”

When questioned on the progress of a new ‘fairer funding formula’ for schools, Ms Greening said the process was “complex, but added she wanted to work with local authorities to ensure “I get it as close as possible to an optimum outcome as I can.”

She also announced that the government would drop a measure in the ‘Excellence Everywhere’ white paper published in March to exclude parents from governing bodies of schools in multi-academy trusts.

Ms Greening said: “Parent governors play a vital role. Part of the way we can ensure schools that are doing a less good job in delivering for children that are disadvantaged…[improve] is by getting parents more involved.”

The Local Government Association has opposed forced academisation, highlighting that 81 per cent of council-maintained schools are rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, compared to 73 per cent of academies.

The education secretary’s statements were welcomed by Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board.

He said: “We are also pleased that the government is considering abandoning plans to force good and outstanding schools to convert to academies against their wishes.

“We have been strong in our opposition to all forced academisation and this opposition has been echoed by MPs, teachers and parents and backed up by evidence.”

Cllr Watts said the decision on parent governors was a “positive indication that the government has listened to concerns” and “acknowledged the vital role that parent governors play in the school community.”

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