All state schools in England should have the independence given to academies and free schools, under proposals to be announced by Labour’s education spokesman, Stephen Twigg. This is from the BBC…
This would mean all schools would control areas such as the curriculum, budgets and the school calendar, regardless of their status.
Mr Twigg says he wants to end a “fragmented, divisive” school system.
But a government source said Labour is “totally confused on school freedoms”.
In a major policy speech on Monday, Mr Twigg will take a significant step towards setting out the opposition’s schools policy.
Mr Twigg will argue against an “incoherent” and “bureaucratic” system in which different types of school have different levels of flexibility.
“We know that giving schools more freedom over how they teach and how they run and organise their schools can help to raise standards,” the shadow education secretary will tell his audience at the RSA in London.
“So why should we deny those freedoms to thousands of schools? All schools should have them, not just academies and free schools.
“A school should not have to change its structure just to gain freedoms.”
Since Labour left office in 2010, more than half of secondary schools in England have become self-governing academies, and rather than reversing this tide, Mr Twigg will say that all schools should share similar degrees of autonomy.
Academies, state-funded schools which operate outside of local authority control, can set their own curriculum and decide their own school terms and the length of school days.
They have greater financial independence and can buy in services such as technology.
Rather than turn back from the model of school autonomy, a Labour government would accelerate more schools in that direction.
“Many academies say freedom to innovate in the curriculum has given their teachers a new sense of confidence and professionalism,” Mr Twigg will say.
But this does not mean that Labour wants all schools to have every freedom associated with academies.
Academies are able to set their own pay and conditions for their teaching staff, a power that has been controversial with the teachers’ unions.
It is expected that Labour will not propose that this power should be extended to all schools, arguing that the current national pay framework should not be broken up.
So are you pleased with the direction Labour appears to be moving in? Is more academy-like freedom for all schools a welcome development or would you prefer Labour to be moving in the opposite direction and turning back the idea of autonomy for individual schools? Please share in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form