The Bow Group opposes the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan's 'Educational Excellence Everywhere' White Paper on the grounds that the forced conversion of all schools into academies contradict previous commitments made to localism through an increasing centralisation of power.
The 2010 and 2015 Conservative Party manifestos underlined a commitment to democratic, local accountability and that only inadequate schools would be turned into academies:
‘We will make politics more local, more transparent and more accountable.’
– Conservative Party Manifesto 2010, page 63
‘turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy and deliver free schools for parents and communities that want them.’
– Conservative Party Manifesto 2015, page 33
The White Paper proposals remove the power of elected, local representatives to influence the development of education in their communities, and bestow all powers on central government.
“Under a system of academies and multi-academy trusts we have the power not just to intervene swiftly, but to actively move schools to new management.”
–The Rt Hon. Nicky Morgan MP, 17th March 2016
- Every English state school to become an academy within 6 years
- Schools required to become academies by 2020 or have an academy order for 2022
- All schools to be removed from local authority areas
- 2075/3381 secondary schools are currently academies
- 2440/16,766 primary schools are currently academies
- Multi-academy trusts will be imposed, regardless of school performance
- "Successful and sustainable" schools have the option to beocme single academy trusts
- Several Conservative Councillors and MPs have now psoken out against the proposals and describe them as "bonkers"
Bow Group Chairman and East Herts District Councillor, Cllr Ben Harris-Quinney said:
"Shifting all schools to academies represents not only one of the largest education reforms in British history, but also one of the largest shifts of power from local to central government.
Both George Osborne and Nicky Morgan need to explain why such a significant policy shift was left out of the 2015 Conservative Manifesto, and acknowledge that it marks a clear break with the Conservative Party’s previous commitment to localism.
This is not what the British public voted for, and I don't believe what either local authorities or schools want."
Bow Group Research Fellow, Hector Marchetti said:
“The proposed changes to schools follow a worrying trend in recent years to further centralise decisions away from local communities, which have a more nuanced understanding of the issues that they face daily.
This adds to on an on-going ideological drift between the Party and conservative values.
Compelling all schools to become academies would ignore unique identities and talents which can be offered to students throughout their education. Although some facets of academies have merit, it is fallacious to presume that a borderline homogenous structure would allow for educational standards to effectively increase as intended across the country, especially within such a narrow timeframe.”
The Bow Group has since received significant coverage in national newspapers on this story.