The Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg
, spoke at the Education Innovation conference
today and answered my question about what would happen to the academies and free schools programme under a Labour government. He responded in a relatively cautious fashion, but clearly indicated that the academies programme would be reduced, suggesting, though not stating openly, that schools wouldn't be forced to become academies. In effect, I think he was saying that it would return to the sort of programme it was under the last Labour government; focused upon areas of deprivation, something I agree with. He called for it to be a programme with a renewed emphasis upon "social justice".
He also said that free schools would be much more connected to their local authorities, with a keener eye put on their admissions procedures and more accountability for them generally. But again, he stopped short of saying the programme would stop.
Watch his reply, and see what you think:
It's interesting to note that the Sunday Times has picked up on the story here:
This is the important part of the text in that it highlights the LSN's exclusive! :)
From the Sunday Times,10th March 2013
Clearly, the free schools programme is in real trouble; there's no enthusiasm for it even in the Coalition. It's expensive, divisive and shown not to close the attainment gap because it largely serves children from wealthier backgrounds.