A history of climb-downs: five recent DfE U-turns

Today’s retreat from all-out forced academisation is not the first time Conservative education ministers have had to publicly re-think their plans

Tory education ministers have plenty of form for big policy U-turns as these five examples reveal:

  1. The KS1 Spelling punctuation and grammar test.

    All six and seven-year-olds were to be tested this month, for the first time, on their knowledge of commas, exclamation marks and their spelling. Until, that is, the DfE accidentally published the spelling paper on its website. Then it decided they didn’t need to be tested after all.

  2. Baseline assessments

    They were introduced for primary schools by the goverment in September as the basis of a new progress accountability measure. But last month it emerged that research had found that the three approved baseline assessments were not comparable and now their use for accountability has been scrapped. Instead Key stage 1 assessments will continue to be used as a progress measures. However the government has not ruled out the possibility of a u-turn on this u-turn and the introduction of a new school readiness measure.

  3. English Baccalaureate Certificates

    English Baccalaureate Certificates were proposed by former education secretary Michael Gove as a replacement for GCSEs. But in February 2013, they were dropped with Mr Gove who told Parliament that they were “a bridge too far”. Instead he said he would reform the GCSEs which would have a new grading structure and an end to modules.

  4. Single board exams

    Mr Gove also proposed ending a “race to the bottom” in exam standards with a franchising system where each subject would be run by a single exam board. But headteachers, regulator Ofqual, and the Commons education committee, all warned that the plans could lead to higher prices and smaller subjects disappearing. The plan was abandoned along with EBCs

  5. Forced universal academisation

    Today Nicky Morgan that not all schools will have to become academies – just a week after saying there was ‘no reverse gear’ on the policy. The U-turn came after opposition to the plans quickly snowballed with headteachers, MPs and councillors – including Conservatives criticising the idea.

Was the government right to U-turn on its policy of universal academisation? #AcademisationUTurn

— TES (@tes) May 6, 2016

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