It’s a good day for the Conservatives to bury bad news, when all attention is on Labour and the SNP’s election performances. So that must be why in the past few minutes Nicky Morgan has announced she is U-turning on the government’s plans to force all schools in England to become academies.
The Education Secretary will no longer force good schools to change their structure, but will instead focus on selling the benefits of academies within the education community. This is a significant shift. In reality, it is all the government could do as there were too many Tory MPs opposed to the plans as set out in the White Paper for it to ever make it through the Commons as a piece of legislation. Morgan said:
‘I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools to become academies. However having listened to the feedback from Parliamentary colleagues and the education sector we will now change the path to reaching that goal.
‘By focusing our efforts on those schools most at risk of failing young people, and encouraging good and outstanding schools to seize the opportunities of conversion, we will ensure the continued growth of the academy programme, empowering frontline heads and school leads and transforming even more children’s education.’
This is probably a great relief to Morgan herself, who did not announce the policy (it was part of George Osborne’s Budget, which means that yet another big measure from that economic statement is gone), yet was having to defend it and sell it to Tory colleagues who were giving no impression of backing down.