Was this the week the academies dream began to die?

Between Damian Hinds’ accountability announcements 10 days ago at NAHT conference and then Friday’s DfE response to the Green Paper consultation on faith and grammar schools, I’m beginning to think so. Tes reports

Firstly, last week’s accountability regime proposal explicitly downgraded the likelihood forced conversion. The only circumstance where that will happen is when a school is put in special measures by Ofsted. Falling below the floor standard, whatever that looks like, will no longer play a big part as a trigger. That was hugely significant.

But then we had Friday’s big reveal, which was arguably even more important for those of us geeks who like to try to second guess what the DfE’s top bananas are thinking.

As well as all the stuff about grammars was the section on faith school admissions. Previously the government had controversially planned to allow all new faith schools to drop the cap on 50 per cent by religion, but this plan was gone. Instead ministers and mandarins had come up with a neat loop-hole: they’d steer some of the cash previously ringfenced for free schools into setting up a new batch of voluntarily-aided (VA) schools.

It was missed by many mainstream commentators but it is almost impossible to exaggerate how important this is, especially in tandem with last week’s changes.

For eight years the education sector has had political masters with almost messianic faith in academies and their free school cousins as the only structural way of dealing with underperformance and driving school improvement. It is worth remembering that it was as recently as 2015 that then education secretary Nicky Morgan produced a white paper proposing 100 per cent academisation.

Read the full article Was this the week the academies dream began to die?

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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