“There is no reverse gear on academisation,” education secretary, Nicky Morgan, will teachers this morning.
The government’s plans to make every school an academy by 2022 are attracting increasingly widespread opposition from teachers, parents and even Conservative party councillors.
Yesterday the National Union of Teachers raised the spectre of industrial action to counter the plans.
But speaking at the NASUWT teaching conference in Birmingham today Ms Morgan will say there is no going back on the controversial plans.
The reform, set out in a White Paper published this month, is part of a “vision” to “improve the life chances of every single young person in this country,” the education secretary will say.
“I want to be clear there will be no pulling back from that vision, there is no reverse gear when it comes to our education reforms.”
Ms Morgan is the first education secretary to address the NASUWT conference since Ed Balls in 2010.
She will risk angering delegates by challenging the teaching union to choose between “spend[ing] the next four years doing battle with us and doing down the profession they represent in the process” and “stepping up” and “seizing the opportunities” offered by the White Paper.
Addressing about a thousand teachers she will also say that teaching unions should be “doing everything they can” to help encourage more people to become teachers.
“In an economy that is growing, with more graduate opportunities than ever before, why aren’t the teaching unions to do everything they can to help?” she will say.
“Why aren’t they using the tools available to them to build up teachers, promote the profession and tell the story of what a rewarding job teaching really is?
“That would be stepping up. Choosing to be part of the solution to the challenges we face in recruiting new teachers, rather than adding to the problem.”
But Ms Morgan is expected to thank teachers for their “phenomenal effort” in raising standards so that 1.4 million more children were in schools rated “good” or “outstanding” now than in 2010.
She will say she was “disgusted” to read, in an NASUWT report, that teachers were being abused through social media.
“Teachers are the pinnacle of the community… and that means we owe it to them to treat them with the greatest of respect,” she will say. “There is never an excuse to threaten, harass or attack a teacher.”
Her officials will “work on what more could be done” to protect teachers online, she will tell the conference.