‘Why I support the academisation of underachieving and coasting schools’

Contrary to the naysayers, writes one academy sponsor, there is much to be praised

Charlie Rigby

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Contrary to the criticism it has received, last week’s plans in the education bill that all underachieving and coasting schools will be converted into academies is one that should be welcomed. Far too much scaremongering has accompanied the bill thus far with far too little reference to the positives.

One of the key points that must be drawn upon is that it will now be significantly easier and quicker for schools to receive the help they desperately need, which I believe will prove to be of colossal benefit.

Many have lost sight of that which matters most, that each and every child’s education should be the best possible. The number of schools identified as either coasting or failing is staggering, clearly reflecting a faulty system. Drastic reform has to be taken and this needs to be executed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

These changes are hardly radical either; the conversion of schools to academies has been on-going for many years already and all the new proposals will do is streamline a process clogged with red tape, which increased the time it took for assistance to arrive.

With this red tape hopefully now cut, the length of time for a struggling school to be converted into an academy has dramatically reduced and as such we now expect a greater rate of conversions in the next few years.

In addition, we will see more sponsors appointed by the government to improve these below-par schools, which I believe will see schools offered much needed assistance in building a better overall education experience for students.

Aside from the changes in the bill, Nicky Morgan also appears to be targeting changes to the way the methodology of how children are taught – especially around developing character. I hope these new style of classes will be oriented towards developing students not just academically, but also personally – with greater focus on the overall school day and what a child learn both in and out of the classroom.

For too long, children in this country have had to suffer poor English and maths-focused curriculums, denying them much needed time for outdoor activities and opportunities to develop core character attributes.

The English education system has maintained a production line of children able to pass exams, but without any of character development – self-belief, drive and resilience to implement this. Hopefully by widening the curriculum to offer greater learning both inside and outside the classroom, we can instil a sense of determination, grit and self-belief in our young people which will see employable and able to make a real contribution to society.

For far too long many schools across Britain have been struggling, and any move by the government which results in issues such as those above being taken on should be welcome.

In any other industry a move which would see failure being addressed sooner rather than later would be welcome and this is the viewpoint I believe should be taken with these new reforms.

Charlie Rigby is founder of the Challenger Trust, a government-backed organisation providing learning outside the classroom.

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