Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Gove broadside at academies critics

Education Secretary Michael Gove is to hit out at critics of the Government's school academies programme
Education Secretary Michael Gove is to hit out at critics of the Government's school academies programme

Critics of the Government's academies programme are the "enemies of promise", Education Secretary Michael Gove is to declare.

Mr Gove will say ministers are to press ahead with plans to transform 200 of the worst performing primary schools into academies, claiming that local education authorities which stand in his way are "happy with failure".

In a speech at the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College in south-east London, an "all-through" academy educating children aged from three to 18, Mr Gove will say that while most councils are co-operating with his department's reform programme, some are being obstructive and intent on using the ideology of central control ahead of the interests of children.

Mr Gove will say: "The same ideologues who are happy with failure - the enemies of promise - also say you can't get the same results in the inner cities as the leafy suburbs so it's wrong to stigmatise these schools.

"Let's be clear what these people mean. Let's hold their prejudices up to the light.

"What are they saying? 'If you're poor, if you're Turkish, if you're Somali, then we don't expect you to succeed. You will always be second class and it's no surprise your schools are second class'. "I utterly reject that attitude."

Mr Gove will also highlight a recent study by academics at the London School of Economics who found the academies programme generated "a significant improvement in pupil performance".

Also on Wednesday, the Government will release its latest figures for academies. There are now 1,529 academies, compared with only 200 when the coalition came to power. Of those, 1,194 have been converted from schools, while 335 have been sponsored.

Mr Gove has also said the Government will not hesitate to use its powers under the Academies Act 2010 to require schools to convert to academies if they are consistently failing.

Around 1,300 primary schools in England fail minimum "floor standards" set out by the Government. These are having fewer than 60% of pupils reaching a basic level in English and maths at age 11 and children making below-average progress between the ages of seven and 11.

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