MPs prepare for academies bill vote

By staff

Frustration with the limited amount of time given to the academies bill is likely to reach a climax tonight as MPs vote through a huge shake-up for Britain’s schools.

Under education secretary Michael Gove’s plans all schools will be given the option to become academies, ending their control by local authorities.

The swiftness with which the legislation is being taken through parliament has already resulted in claims the academies bill is being poorly thought through.

That criticism is mirrored by concerns from the NASUWT teachers’ union that schools rushing to become academies by this September are “cutting corners” in terms of consultation with staff.

General secretary Chris Keates suggested the “indecent haste” was leaving some schools open to legal action through judicial review and employment tribunal claims.

“It has been clear that the driver of the hasty decisions made by some schools to apply for academy status has been the belief that they will get more money as academies,” Ms Keates explained.

“They should now pause and reflect on how much money defending legal challenges in the high court will cost, especially when, as academies, they will have no local authority to bail them out.”

Under the government’s proposals academy schools will be allowed to set their own curriculum, set terms and conditions for their staff and be responsible for their own admissions.

The Sunday Mirror reported that ministers could end the ban on schools choosing pupils based on their ability to do well, resulting in a return of widespread ‘selection’.

“This is a full-scale assault on comprehensive state education,” shadow education secretary Ed Balls told the newspaper.

“Without a tough code, schools will be allowed to select by the back door.”