Islington Labour councillors have welcomed news that the Tory Government has abandoned its plans to force all schools to become academies.
The announcement on 27th October 2016 that the Education for All Bill was being dropped by the Tory Government, follows months of campaigning by Islington Labour and others, supported by the ‘Our Schools, Our Say’ petition.
Earlier this year, the Tory Government put forward plans that would mean all schools would be forced to convert into academies. Despite there being very little evidence that a school’s governance status impacted on its performance, the Tory Government were ready to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on what was purely an ideological vanity project.
The plans to impose this one-size-fits-all approach on schools, without any consideration for parents’ wishes or schools’ performance, prompted outcry from parents, teachers, trade unionists and even Tory councils.
Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, said: “We are pleased and relieved by the Government’s announcement, although forcing all schools to become academies should never have been proposed in the first place. The proposals ignored the overwhelming evidence that council-maintained schools perform better than academies.
“I would like to thank Islington’s parents, teachers, trade unionists and residents who campaigned hard with us against the Tory Government’s ideological attack on education.”
Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “This is yet another Government U-Turn that many people in Islington will welcome. Our schools continue to go from strength to strength, with the vast majority rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. Islington’s ‘community of schools’ brings all schools together to share best practice, oversee improvement plans and raise standards to the benefit of all children. Forced academisation would have foolishly removed local councils from the school system.”
The proposals would have seen around £3.5m of funding wasted on forcing schools to become academies, at a time when schools’ budgets are being cut by the Tory Government.
Islington is now ranked in the top third of the country for GCSE results, having improved dramatically since it was ranked 143rd out of 151 in 2010.
Islington’s Labour councillors launched the ‘Our Schools, Our Say’ campaign to call on the Government to drop its ideological plans and put the needs of the borough first. The petition attracted over 300 signatures from concerned parents, teachers, trade unionists and residents.
However, the Tory Government’s divisive plans for new grammar schools remain in place and Islington Labour will continue to campaign for education, not segregation, and against these plans.