Last week, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced that the government was reversing its decision to force all schools to become academies by 2020.
The forced academisation plan has been met with fierce cross-party opposition. Head teachers have also voiced their displeasure, heckling Mrs Morgan at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) conference and threatening to take industrial action if the legislation was passed.
Mrs Morgan said that the climbdown shows she is part of “a listening government”, adding that she still believed that academisation would lift standards in schools.
The government will press ahead with plans to force academisation on underperforming schools, or in local authorities where only a few unconverted schools remain. It has also pledged to protect small rural schools from closure.
How should you react?
It would be easy to describe the government’s announcement as a ‘U-turn’ (indeed, many have used this term), but you can be sure that they will not simply let go of their objective to eventually convert all schools to academies. In other words, it’s not a case of this government going back to the drawing board on this issue.
Protesters against the plan have certainly portrayed academies in something of a negative light. However, academisation has worked for many schools that were previously underperforming, and it would be short-sighted to take the option off the table just because it is no longer compulsory.
The loudest voices against the plans were from head teachers whose schools are already performing well, and do not see the benefit of overhauling a system that is working for them.
There will be many schools who were already debating whether or not to form an academy even before the government announced it would be compulsory. The government’s decision may buy those schools more time, but they shouldn’t stop their conversations and engagement with stakeholders on the issue of academisation.
It’s important that schools give full consideration to the possibility of academisation, and conduct a thorough investigation to see whether the plan is right for them. By gaining an understanding of their own position, away from the furore that has surrounded this debate, they will be able to make an informed, objective decision.
How can berg help?
With a decision as crucial as this, you need the support of external professionals. The education experts at berg continue to support schools through through the process and will be able to advise you on the benefits of academisation from a sales and PR perspective, allowing you to make an informed choice.
We can help you navigate the academisation process, identifying any potential pitfalls before they happen and ensuring a smooth transition for your school.
For more information, or to get in touch with a member of our team, simply fill in the contact form on this page. You can also join our mailing list for regular updates.