Education secretary: ‘Failing Northants schools will not go ‘unchallenged’ under academy programme’

Nicky Morgan at Lings Primary School yesterday. NNL-160421-120237009
Nicky Morgan at Lings Primary School yesterday. NNL-160421-120237009
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The Education Secretary has defended plans to turn all schools into academies by 2022 by claiming it would boost standards in Northamptonshire.

During a visit to Lings Primary School yesterday Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan hit back at Labour MP Lucy Powell’s suggestion that she had not put forward a “convincing argument” for the proposals, which would see 16,000 schools taken out of local authority control.

On her visit to Northampton yesterday she said Lings Primary School was a “very successful academy and “shows exactly what we mean when we talk about getting the best possible people to run a school”.

But when asked whether the academisation programme - which local Labour opposition and teaching unions are opposed to - would improve the quality of education in Northamptonshire, she said she believed it would.

“Some local authorities they will allow a school to go unchallenged for too long,” she said.

“That will not happen with academies, because we will take action and where necessary we (the Government) will step in.”

Academies are state-funded schools, which receive funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority.

However teaching unions are concerned that good state schools will suffer from a shift in structure.

In Northampton, the local Labour group says schools will be less accountable if taken out of local authority control.

Head of Lings Primary School, Leigh Wolmarans, said becoming an academy as part of Northampton Primary Academy Trust Partnership allowed it to shape its teaching around drama, music and sport, which he says has been key for the school’s Ofsted rating rising from ”requires improvement” to “good” in four years.

He said: “We knew we were passionate about sport and performing arts and music and we were passionate about making a difference.

“I think we have set up something quite exceptional.”