David Cameron sought to set the tone for his second spell in office by showcasing the vision of the first majority Conservative government for 18 years. The centre-piece of his sweeping policy review is education, with a focus on the intention to afford more schools the opportunity to attain academy status.
Education as empowerment
In an article for the Daily Telegraph he positioned education as a means of providing security for people’s working lives and announced the creation of 3 million more apprenticeships ‘for an economy where people benefit from growth’. Mr Cameron championed the need to provide routes into employment with the promise to double free childcare to 30 hours a week for 3 and 4 year olds, and provided a clear emphasis on training as a means to social mobility.
Expansion of the academies programme
He also used the article to announce a significant increase in the scope of the academies programme, pitching them as an opportunity to free teachers from bureaucracy and handing back the power to make decisions on education to those in the classroom. He announced that legislation to transform all failing schools into academies would be brought forward, and that powers would be available to convert ‘coasting schools’.
Going further, the Prime Minister detailed his ambition to make academy status available to every school and every child in the country, not just those judged as under-performing. It is now a priority of the Government to recruit more academy sponsors and bring more head teachers into the academy school system.
Expanding the academy system brought in under Labour, the Conservatives are on course to leave a much-changed education landscape. Seen by some as a form of privatisation and others as likely to increase inequality by attracting the best and brightest away from poorer schools, the reforms nevertheless constitute a further devolution of power from local authority control to individual schools and education providers.
For more information, help or advice on Education issues please contact Tony McPhillips on 0191 211 7908 or email [email protected] or anyone from our Education team.