A history of climbdowns: five recent DfE U-turns

6th May 2016 at 17:50
five recent DfE U-turns
Today's retreat from all-out forced academisation is not the first time Conservative education ministers have had to publicly rethink their plans

Tory education ministers have plenty of form for big policy U-turns as these five examples reveal:

  1. The key stage 1 spelling, punctuation and grammar test

    All six and seven-year-olds were to be tested this month, for the first time, on their knowledge of commas, exclamation marks and their spelling. Until, that is, the DfE accidentally published the spelling paper on its website. Then it decided they didn’t need to be tested after all.
  2. Baseline assessments 

    They were introduced for primary schools by the goverment in September as the basis of a new progress accountability measure. But last month it emerged that research had found that the three approved baseline assessments were not comparable and now their use for accountability has been scrapped. Instead KS1 assessments will continue to be used as a progress measure. However, the government has not ruled out the possibility of a U-turn on this U-turn and the introduction of a new school readiness measure.
  3. English Baccalaureate Certificates

    English Baccalaureate Certificates were proposed by former education secretary Michael Gove as a replacement for GCSEs. But in February 2013, they were dropped with Mr Gove telling Parliament that they were “a bridge too far”. Instead, he said he would reform GCSEs which would have a new grading structure and there would be an end to modules.
  4. Single board exams

    Mr Gove also proposed ending a "race to the bottom" in exam standards with a franchising system where each subject would be run by a single exam board. But headteachers, regulator Ofqual and the Commons education committee all warned that the plans could lead to higher prices and smaller subjects disappearing. The plan was abandoned along with EBCs.
  5. Forced universal academisation

    Today education secretary Nicky Morgan said that not all schools will have to become academies – just a week after saying there was "no reverse gear" on the policy. The U-turn came after opposition to the plans quickly snowballed with headteachers, MPs and councillors – including Conservatives – criticising the idea.




Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook





Related Content

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today