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Apr 14, 2016

Media round-up of forced academisation debate

Yesterday’s Opposition debate in the House of Commons was used to argue Labour’s motion for putting on hold the Government’s plans to force academisation onto all English schools by 2020/2022, as set out in the recent Educational Excellence Everywhere White Paper. A Conservative amendment to the motion sought to defend the plans.

 Here’s a roundup of today’s media coverage of the education debate on academisation started in #PMQs and finished in the #OppositionDebate held after 4.30pm in the House of Commons.

 The Spectator believes that the Tories expect a u-turn on forced academisation. Isabel Hardman states: “They have upset a good number of Conservative MPs and councillors, not least because they appear to contradict the government’s commitment to localism”. She continues: “A large number of MPs are complaining in the debate about the dangers of imposing the academy model on all schools, and removing the requirement for academies to have parent governors.” The Daily Mirror’s coverage has focused on opposition from Tory backbenchers. It quotes Tory MP Stewart Jackson who kicked off the row by warning the plan by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was "rushed, ill-thought out and flawed".

The Yorkshire Post reports on how Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Education Secretary, used the Opposition Day debate to reinforce former Labour Minister, David Blunkett’s, recent argument that academies were only designed to help underperforming schools and that academisation should remain optional for schools. Ms Powell said: “What choice is there in a one size fits all policy? What is autonomous about forcing a highly performing school into an academy chain?” Ms Powell also highlighted concerns raised by Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw who wrote to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan about shortcomings inspectors had found in some schools inside some of the country’s biggest academy chains.

 Meanwhile the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, and Education Secretary Nick Morgan MP, argued robustly in defence of the plans. BBC News reports the Prime Minister’s response to arguments that the White Paper signals the removal of parent governors. During PMQs he stated: "Parents have a great role to play, but no school should think that simply by having parent governors you've solved the problem about how to engage with parents”. He continued: "The Labour motion says the White Paper proposes the removal of parent governors from school governing bodies. It does no such thing."

Today’s Huffington Post highlights the Education Secretary’s insistence in yesterday’s debate that she has seen “an appetite from parents, teachers and governing bodies for “more responsibility for their schools, not be told what to do by local authorities”. TES News’ coverage of the debate captures the Education Secretary’s accusation that Labour opponents are simply "scaremongering". She called Labour’s motion a "deliberate misinterpretation of the government's proposals to transform England's schools and contained at least two errors.”

The Government amendment was backed by 302 votes to 204, a majority of 98. A vote on the amended motion was then won by 297 votes to 201, a majority of 96.

For more responses to yesterday’s debate and the ongoing arguments for and against forced academisation, we recommend searching #OppositionDay, #eduwhitepaper, #academy and #teaching on Twitter.

If you would like to learn more about us and our work with schools, education-based charities and product providers - give Communitas a call on 01273 669 919 or email


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