Parliament to debate plans for 100 per cent academisation for the first time

12th April 2016 at 13:22
House of Commons
Labour demands a Commons debate over the government's controversial plans, saying it wants to 'build a consensus about the best way forward for our schools'

The Labour party has called for a debate on the new schools White Paper in the House of Commons tomorrow.

The debate, which is due to take place in the afternoon, will be the first opportunity for MPs to discuss the government's plans to force all schools to become academies by 2022. 

Labour entered an Opposition Day debate motion on the White Paper to "build a consensus about the best way forward for our schools".

The motion calls on the government to put the proposals on hold as Labour claims there is "insufficient evidence that they will raise standards".

The party highlights the fact that the "vast majority of schools affected by this policy will be primary schools" of which it says more than 80 per cent are already good and outstanding. 

The White Paper's proposal to remove parent governors from school governing bodies "will reduce the genuine involvement of parents and communities in local schools", the motion adds.

'We need clarity'

Several education unions have welcomed the opportunity to test parliamentary support for the plans.

Ahead of the debate, Lucy Powell, shadow education secretary, said: “This is Parliament’s first chance to debate the government’s plans to force all primary and secondary schools into academy chains by 2022 against a growing tide of opposition from parents, teachers and communities.

"Many Conservative Members of Parliament, alongside local government leaders, have also expressed concern at the plans."

The Labour MP added: "My aim in calling this debate is not to divide the House but to build a consensus about the best way forward for our schools.

“We know this top-down reorganisation of the schools system is going to cost over £1 billion at a time when schools are facing real-terms budget cuts for the first time since the mid-1990s. The plans will also cut out the genuine involvement of parents and communities in our schools.

"Schools are facing a teacher shortage crisis, the schools places system is broken and the attainment gap is now wider than when David Cameron came to office, yet this measure will do nothing to tackle these issues."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Our White Paper reforms are the next step in ensuring every child has access to an excellent education by putting control in the hands of the teachers and school leaders who know their pupils best. We want to work constructively with the sector to deliver this and ensure standards continue to rise.

“We want parents to be more involved in their child’s education not less and many parents have skills that make them effective governors. Schools will continue to be free to appoint parents as they see fit but we want to ensure they are appointed for their expertise and the skills they can bring to their school.

“We’re investing hundreds of millions in teacher recruitment and the vacancy rate has remained low over the last 15 years. And our funding reforms will address the historic unfairness in the system so every child, no matter where they live in the country will be funded according to need. Those areas with the highest need will still attract the most funding.”

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