A new White Paper setting out plans to force all schools to become academies is a “radical departure from the approaches of governments past”, education secretary Nicky Morgan has said.
In a speech at Kings College Maths School in south London today, Ms Morgan said wide-ranging reforms set out in the White Paper would give schools “supported autonomy”.
They would have the “power, incentives, accountability and support” to give every child an excellent education, she said.
However, Ms Morgan insisted that the White Paper “does not propose another big idea to be imposed on schools”.
“No matter how well intentioned it might be, micromanaging classrooms from Westminster doesn’t work and at its very worst it can stamp out the very innovation that drives pedagogy forward,” she said.
She said previous governments’ education reforms, such as the 1944 Education Act known, as the Butler Act, and the introduction of the national curriculum, “have always been top down”.
“All have seen the state asserting more control and management – right down to the level of individual classrooms,” she said.
Instead, her reforms would “free teachers and school leaders from the shackles of central government diktats, allowing them instead to innovate, challenge orthodoxies and tread new ground.”
“This is what has made our education reforms so transformational – they are devo-max in the truest sense of the world,” she said.
Ms Morgan said she was “not so naïve as to believe that academy status in itself is a magic wand.”
She said: “It’s true some academies have been weaker than others, some haven’t met the high expectations that we’ve set for them.
But here’s the crucial difference: when a local authority school failed, it was stuck with the local authority, end of story.
Under a system of academies and multi academy trusts we have the power not just to intervene swiftly, but to actively move schools to new management to turn them around.”
She stressed that her reforms were “certainly not about regional schools commissioners interfering in the day to day running of schools.”
Instead, RSCs’ role would be to “ensure that those with a proven track record of improvement can support those schools most in need,” she said.