Schoolchildren in a science class

School academy plans dropped by government

Plans that aimed to force schools to become academies have been formally dropped by the government as the focus shifts to Theresa May’s raft of educational reforms. The move has largely been welcomed by those working in the education system and means schools will be able maintain greater autonomy.

Plans originally put forward under former prime minister David Cameron set out that all schools would be forced to become academies or have plans to become an academy by 2022. However, this quickly changed and it was suggested that only those found to be underperforming would be forced to change. Now the plans have been scrapped altogether with the government focussing on encouraging schools to voluntarily become academies.

While academy schools are state funded they are independent of local authority control and are usually run by non-profit trusts instead. This means they don’t have to follow the national curriculum and may receive extra support, including financial, from corporate sponsors.

The ability to receive additional funding is one of the benefits of academy schools. Those the back the movement also argue that it allows head teachers to have more control over teacher salary, the length of the school day and term times to better suit the needs of their pupils. As they can choose to opt out of the national curriculum they also have more freedom over what is taught. Academy school were originally brought in under a Labour government to support failing schools and, according to the government, it has largely been successful at achieving this, with academies improving twice as fast.

Despite some support, those against academies state it is the beginning of the privatisation of the education system and state academies lack the oversight and accountability that should be in place. There have also been instances where some academies have failed to improve school results while board members are receiving large salaries, attracting criticism.

Teachers’ unions have welcomed the move away from the forced adoption of academy statues, although some within the industry have commented that the constantly changing education reforms present other problems. With the proposals under the Education for All bill now being dropped the focus has shifted to the educational reforms set out by Theresa May. These reforms include removing the ban on new grammar schools and increasing the number of faith schools.

Do you think more schools should become academies or do you think Theresa May’s proposal would improve the education system? Share your thoughts with us on the School Review forum.


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