Headteacher’s delight at climbdown on academies

Staff and pupils from St Nicholas Primary School celebrate after being rated outstanding by Ofsted
Staff and pupils from St Nicholas Primary School celebrate after being rated outstanding by Ofsted

A headteacher who has fought Government plans to force schools to become academies today welcomed a shock U-turn.

The Government dropped plans to force all schools in England to become academies in the face of opposition from teaching unions, Tory MPs and councils.

Andy Mellor, headteacher of St Nicholas CE Primary, recently rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, wrote in The Gazette on Friday how forcing schools to become academies was an unnecessary gamble.

Just hours later, the Department for Education announced the move towards academy status is now an “aspiration” rather than a compulsory policy.

Mr Mellor, north west representative for the National Association of Headteachers, said: “This dramatic change to government policy is to be warmly welcomed, as it is as brave as it is unexpected. The government has consistently said it wants to work with schools and headteachers who Nicky Morgan praised just last week.

“Forcing schools to become academies was a bizarre departure from this supposed collaborative approach and indeed the Conservative election manifesto.

“We can now leave schools, headteachers and governing bodies to make the right decisions for their school on academisation in consultation with their school community.

“As the government has said many times, the profession knows best about education.

“It is now time to properly engage with the profession in meaningful dialogue so that we can both work together for the best interests of our children.”

The Government announced plans in its Budget to force around 17,000 mainstream schools in England to be taken out of the control of local education authorities.

Chancellor George Osborne said that all schools will either have to convert by 2020 or be committed to doing so by 2022.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Making every school an academy is the best way to ensure every child, regardless of birth or background, has access to a world-class education.

“I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools 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.”