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'Beware spin doctors telling you the academies U-turn is not a U-turn. It is'

The government's strategy for schools is holed, writes TES deputy editor

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The government's strategy for schools is holed, writes TES deputy editor

Don't be fooled by the spin from the Department for Education that yesterday's academies U-turn is not a U-turn. It is. 

Ministers and their spin doctors would have you believe that they have listened to critics and finessed their policies accordingly, but that ultimately most schools – and whole local authorities – will convert.

They want those who have criticised their plans for universal academisation to believe that they have been listened to, and those who love academies to believe that in large part the vision for wholesale conversion remains intact.

In short, they want to have their cake and eat it.

We should not let that happen. Let's be clear. This is a volte-face. The government's education strategy is holed. Academies evangelists are mortified.

The whole idea was that universal academisation would make sense of an increasingly shambolic educational world. Newly installed national schools commissioner Sir David Carter has laid out his vision for multi-academy trusts (Mats) within that context.

Like it or loathe it, it was a plan. And now it's been smashed up for political expediency (not because ministers have suddenly started buying into the political philosophy of the NUT). There is no longer any coherency to the DfE's vision.

Some local authorities will be largely in charge of education. Others won't be. Some areas will be dominated by MATs. Others won't be. It's going to be a bigger shambles than the one we already have.

And all because the Conservative High Command couldn't stand up to its shire counties or a small group of its own backbenchers.

This is a major U-turn. And the result is going to be very messy. The question is: what is anyone going to do about it? 

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