Even ‘good’ schools could be forced to become academies, PM warns

Prime minister David Cameron increased the pressure on schools today by warning that even those with “good” Ofsted ratings could be forced to become academies.

In a speech at an academy in Runcorn he expanded on the government’s “zero tolerance” approach to failure in education and condemned “coasting schools”.

These are “schools where standards could and should be higher, given their intake and potential”, he said, adding: “These include some schools rated ‘requires improvement’ – but who aren’t improving quickly enough.

“And other schools rated ‘good’ at their last inspection – but which haven’t been maintaining high standards since. They are giving children ‘just enough’ to avoid falling beneath our floor standards. But frankly ‘just enough’ isn’t good enough for my children, and it shouldn’t be for yours.

“So we’re going to say to those schools: if you’re not making fast enough progress in raising standards, you have to change and if you can’t do it yourself, you have to become a sponsored academy and welcome in people with a proven track record of running outstanding schools.”

The government has previously said that up to 1,000 failing schools in England would be turned into academies under new laws being introduced to Parliament.

Every school in England rated inadequate by Ofsted will be become an academy under the Education and Adoption Bill.

New powers would speed up the process of changing a failing school’s leadership and stop campaigners “obstructing” takeovers, according to the Department for Education.

Mr Cameron said today: “One of the great frustrations of the past five years was that because of bureaucratic rules, we could only intervene in 50 per cent of the schools rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. So as part of our education bill, we will sweep away these rules and make sure every ‘inadequate’ school will be turned into an academy, with new leadership.”

The prime minister insisted that the task of raising aspirations was not simply for headteachers and teachers but also for parents.

“What I would say to anyone, whether it is the teachers in a school that’s coasting, or the parents who send their children there, is we have all got to lift our aspirations,” he said. “We should set the aspiration high and, to be fair to teachers, asking them on their own is not enough. We have got to ask parents, too, to aspire to do more for their children and make sure they are being demanding of their schools and, as I know as a parent myself, demanding of their children, too.”

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