Greening signals less 'punitive' approach towards struggling schools

12th July 2017 at 10:49
Education secretary says current system makes good teachers think twice about going to schools where they are needed. But she denies existence of forced academisation

Justine Greening has signalled that she wants to move away from a “purely punitive intervention” in struggling schools that is making it hard for them to recruit good teachers.

The education secretary was speaking this morning at the Sutton Trust’s Social Mobility Summit 2017.

She said: “We do need to move away from a perception of a reliance on a pure punitive intervention approach. We need to, moreover, move towards a culture of having the right support in the right places at the right time, and I think for too long our strategy hasn’t had that breadth to it, and perhaps that clarity around it.

“My approach is to much more target and support and lift up those areas. It’s about having a clear plan to improve the schools in these areas, a plan everyone can buy into at a local and the national level.”

She said this did not mean she planned to change the system of floor standards used to identify failing schools.

'We don't have forced academisation'

Asked whether her comments meant a retreat from forced academisation, she said: “We don’t have forced academisation, but I think we do need to recognise that having, quite rightly, a strong accountability system, that does come with some issues that we need to think very carefully about.

“We have got into a situation where our best teachers actually think twice before going into schools where we most need them to go.

“We have to marry up these competing objectives of having transparency and clear accountability of schools but not to the extent that it stops us doing what is crucial, which is the underlying objective of our education strategy, which is school improvement targeted where it can make the biggest difference in areas where children are getting the worst education at the moment.”

The Education and Adoption Act 2016 clearly contradicts Ms Greening's assertion that "we don’t have forced academisation". The legislation states that the education secretary "must make an academy order" for any maintained school in England that Ofsted deems "inadequate".

The Department for Education later said the secretary of state was referring to previously abandoned plans to force all schools to become academies, rather than legislation that requires individual under-performing schools to become academies.

Ms Greening also said that the government would set out its careers strategy in the autumn, which would put a greater emphasis on the use of technology to help young people get information.

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