Exclusive: Morgan - 'Hinds right to dismantle my coasting schools policy'

Former education secretary who wanted all school to be academies says 'life moves on' as DfE scales back forced academisation

nicky morgan, morgan, coasting, academies, conversion, ofsted, hinds, accountability, dfe

Nicky Morgan has welcomed the abolition of the coasting school policy that she brought in.

The former education secretary introduced the measure in 2015 to identify schools with high-attaining intakes where pupils were not making enough progress.

The new category of school operated in parallel to the existing floor standards, and both accountability mechanisms were based on Sats and GCSE data, and could see schools forced to become academies.

Yesterday, current education secretary Damian Hinds branded the existence of the two measures “confusing”, and said they would be replaced with a new, single system.

Ms Morgan told Tes: “I think that any simplification is a good thing.

“I think that Damian is absolutely committed to the continuing lifting of educational standards, so if he and ministers have taken the decision that there are ways in which it could be simplified but the focus on standards remains and making sure that all pupils are stretched to fulfil all their talent and potential then good luck to him.”

The 2015 Conservative manifesto promised to turn all coasting secondary schools into academies, but a Tes investigation last year revealed that although hundreds of schools were officially met this definition, none were converted into academies as a result.

Asked about the success of the policy, Ms Morgan cited disruption caused by the Brexit vote in 2016 and the general election in 2017.

“There were some interruptions and I think that probably now Damian has done the right thing which is standing back and reflecting on where do we take things from here,” she added.

Mr Hinds also announced that from now on, only an “inadequate” Ofsted judgement would trigger force the compulsory academisation of a school.

The move means that the replacement for Ms Morgan's coasting school's measure will not lead to schools having to change their status, and stands in contrast to her signature policy of requiring all schools to become academies by 2022.

Asked whether the regretted Mr Hinds’ decision to scale back forced academisation, she said: “Look, life moves on.”

She added: “I still very much believe that academisation – returning power to teachers, heads and governors – is the right way to go, but there are always more ways to achieve it, and I think Damian is much closer now than I am to the evidence of what’s going on in the school system.”

Ms Morgan said she and Mr Hinds were both committed to making sure educational standards are as high as possible across the country, and added: “I suppose it’s not a question of how it’s done but where we end up, which is more and more children in really good schools, and making sure they are absolutely achieving their potential.”

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