Education ministers are expected to announce in today’s (16 March 2016) Budget that every school in England will be required to convert to academy status, effectively taking all schools out of local authority control and moving them into the hands of central government.
Academy schools receive their funding directly from the government and are free to set their own curriculum, school hours and teaching requirements. The academy and Free School programme has been a central part of the government’s drive to improve standards in education.
Until today, only failing schools were required to become academies and were often taken over by sponsored academy trusts or academy chains which were tasked with turning the school around and improving performance. The remainder were top performing schools that were allowed to become ‘academy converters’ taking advantage of the different funding and operational model.
Although the Department for Education has declined to comment, it is no secret that David Cameron’s ambitions are to turn every school in England into an academy and to encourage the creation of more Free Schools.