Failing schools will become academies

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Failing schools in England would be shut down and reopened as Academies by 2011, say the Conservative Party.

Any school that has been in special measures for a year or more by the end of September 2010 will be transformed into an academy with a new leadership team, should the Conservative Party win the next General Election.

Michael Gove, the Conservative shadow education secretary, told delegates at the 2009 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester that his party would immediately begin the process of replacing the leadership of any school deemed to be consistently failing by the end of this academic year. These schools would also be taken over by proven sponsors, and re-opened as academies by September 2011.

He also announced that, under a Conservative government, all schools would be allowed to apply for academy status, with those rated outstanding by Ofsted receiving an automatic green light to convert.

Those without the top Ofsted rating would have to go through a bid process.

Mr Gove said: “Because academies are outside local bureaucratic control they have the freedom to pay good teachers more, to tailor teaching to every child and to ignore government red tape.

“So we will dramatically accelerate the number of academies – we have already said that the very best schools in our country should be able to become academies so they can partner under-performing schools and help them improve.”

He added: “Every state school could have the chance to free itself from bureaucratic control - and get the extra money, freedom and flexibility which schools have used to dramatically lift standards.”

Mr Gove went on to say: "We will - in our first hundred days - identify the very worst schools, the sink schools which have desperately failed their children and put them rapidly into the hands of heads with a proven track record of success," Mr Gove said.

"We will remove the managements which have failed and replace them with people who know how to turn round schools, heads who can impose discipline, improve teaching and rescue the children this system has betrayed.

"I will not allow another generation of our poorest children to have their future blighted by failing schools."

Schools Minister, Vernon Coaker, commented on the statements by saying: "Mr Gove talked about raising standards in under-performing schools but parents will be disappointed that the plan he announced would be less ambitious than our successful National Challenge programme.

"This new Tory policy would be focused on just 56 secondary schools in Ofsted special measures, while our National Challenge is uncompromising about raising standards through new investment and new leadership in the 270 schools still below our basic benchmark.

"He championed his Swedish model of school reform, but the Tories still haven't explained how they will pay for this free market experiment.

"They seem to think they can create hundreds if not thousands of schools with over 200,000 surplus places with no extra running costs."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the plans completed the Conservative Party’s blueprint for dismantling state education, and claimed that creating more academies would not turn schools around.

She added: “There is no evidence that severing links between local authorities and schools improves standards of education, tackles disadvantage or gives parents more influence. Thousands of children and young people will be placed at the mercy of external providers.”

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