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Hinds: Pupils will pay for Labour academy plans

Education secretary says Angela Rayner's plan to reform academy system would 'sacrifice progress over last eight years'

Education secretary Damian Hinds has vowed to take action on school exclusions

Education secretary says Angela Rayner's plan to reform academy system would 'sacrifice progress over last eight years'

Children would pay the price for "reckless" Labour plans to reform the academy system, Damian Hinds has said.

The education secretary was responding to yesterday’s speech by shadow education secretary Angela Rayner at Labour’s party conference in Liverpool.

In her speech, Ms Rayner said Labour would “immediately” end the academy and free schools programme, allow academies to return to local authorities, and “bring all publicly funded schools back into the mainstream public sector, with a common rulebook and under local democratic control”.

Labour 'would turn back the clock'

Writing for Conservative Home, Mr Hinds said he was “struck by the recklessness of her speech”.

Ms Rayner told the conference that academies and free schools “neither improve standards nor empower staff or parents”, having previously cited research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) that compared the performance of academies and maintained schools.

In response, Mr Hinds wrote: “I’m sorry – but this is just plain wrong. The reforms of the last eight years show that autonomy and freedom in the hands of brilliant leaders and outstanding teachers can deliver an excellent education.”

He wrote that 500,000 children study in a "good" or "outstanding" sponsored academy, “which was typically a previously failing school”.

Mr Hinds added that almost half of free schools are in the 30 per cent most deprived areas in the country, and that last year secondary pupils in free schools made more progress on average than in other types of schools.

He wrote that “returning these schools back to local authority control would be to turn the clock back on the successful education reforms we have enacted”.

Ms Rayner has not said that Labour would bring all academies and free schools back under local authorities.

Mr Hinds added: “There is a difference between opposing something for opposition’s sake and denying the good that reforms are doing because your tribal ideology stands in the way.

“Labour’s proposals would mean that the progress we have seen over the last eight years would be sacrificed – and it is our kids that would pay the price.”

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