Gove moves against worst primary schools

Worst primary schools will be forced to turn into academies
Worst primary schools will be forced to turn into academies

By Alex Stevenson

Two hundred underperforming primary schools are to be turned into academies, Michael Gove has announced.

The education secretary's move is the start of a renewed focus for his academy programme, which has so far convinced 1,200 secondary schools to convert to academy status.

At present 1,400 primary schools are already in what the Department for Education (DfE) calls 'converter' status. Today's announcement will force the weakest 200 primaries to make the change by 2012/13.


"We have to set our sights higher," Mr Gove said in a speech to headteachers at the National College for School Leadership today.

"We should no longer tolerate a system in which so many pupils leave primary school without a good grasp of English and maths, and leave secondary school without five good GCSEs. We want all parents to have a choice of good local schools.

"Evidence shows that the academy programme has had a good effect on school standards... We must go faster and further in using the programme to deal with underperforming schools."

Also announced today are plans to identify local authorities with particularly large numbers of struggling primaries.

These will be forced to undergo "urgent collaboration" with the DfE. Secondary schools could face further interventions in the future, as the current average performance will become the new 'floor'.

All schools will be required to have at least 50% of pupils getting five A*-C grade GCSEs including English and maths by 2015, the DfE said. The floor standard had stood at 30% before the coalition came to power.

Mr Gove used emergency legislation normally reserved for anti-terror laws to rush through the Academies Act last summer. There are currently 88 academies opening in the academic year 2011/12, compared to 70 in 2009/10.

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