MPs question Secretary of State on the White Paper
May 6, 2016
Secretary of State Nicky Morgan appeared before the House of Commons Education Select Committee recently to answer questions on the proposals contained in the Educational Excellence Everywhere White Paper.
Ms. Morgan reiterated the comments made by David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier that day, confirming the government’s commitment for all schools to be academies by 2022. She said that the move was in response for the need for a “strong, consistent education system” and that currently expertise and collaboration is not crossing local authority (LA) boundaries. She also raised the complexity of the current dual system, in terms of both funding and accountability.
Asked why so few primary schools had chosen to become academies, Ms. Morgan pointed to “the fear of the unknown” and strong relationships with local authorities. Despite rumours in the press that LAs may be permitted to establish multi academy trusts, Ms. Morgan stated that talented individuals currently working for LAs would be encouraged to move across to the academies sector, either providing traded services or setting up MATs. She did not indicate that a new mechanism for LAs to sponsor MATs is in the pipeline, though the discussion had been raised by several parties.
On the subject of parent governors, Ms. Morgan said that trusts would be free to have parent governors on their boards if they chose and that removing the requirement would allow boards to prioritise skills. NGA does not consider that this addresses the objections raised by governors, parents, and others.
Following the recent debate, there have been a number of news reports suggesting Conservative backbenchers are considering rebellion. The County Councils Network have also expressed their concerns about forced academisation.
NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights has written to Nicky Morgan on the proposals in the White Paper and are encouraging governors to write to their local MPs with any concerns about the policy proposals, as well as to local councillors and Cabinet Members for Children’s Services.