Academies beckon for our inadequate schools

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WIGAN schools deemed to be failing could be forced to convert to academies under a controversial new law being drawn up by the Government.

The proposal from the Department for Education would see every English school rated inadequate by Ofsted turned into an academy.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan claimed the Education and Adoption Bill will enable experts to rapidly improve standards, but Wigan Council has said it is adamant the situation will simply not arise in local schools.

There are currently two schools in the borough deemed inadequate by Ofsted but the town hall said it is confident they will have improved their rating before the legislation comes into force.

Kirston Nelson, assistant director for education at Wigan Council, said: “We currently have two schools classed as inadequate in the borough, but we’re confident that the improvement measures we have put in place will see them out of this category very soon.”

The bill has come in for heavy criticism but Ms Morgan strongly defended the policy, which also gives new powers to speed up the process of academy conversion and stop campaigners blocking takeovers.

Ms Morgan said: “Today’s landmark Bill will allow the best education experts to intervene in poor schools from the first day we spot failure.

“It will sweep away the bureaucratic and legal loopholes previously exploited by those who put ideological objections above the best interests of children.

“At the heart of our commitment to delivering real social justice is our belief that every pupil deserves an excellent education and that no parent should have to be content with their child spending a single day in a failing school.”

Teaching unions have blasted the bill, with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) pointing out Ofsted rates some existing academies as inadequate.

General secretary Christine Blower said: “We at the NUT believe it should be the job of local authorities to assist schools. This would be preferable to sacking head teachers and silencing opposition.

“It is surely essential to the democratic process that those who seek to oppose and put brakes on the hasty and un-evidenced actions of Government are allowed to be heard.

“The public will see these proposals for what they really are: a crude attack on state comprehensive education and a further step towards full school privatisation.”