Education Jun 19 2010

School reforms face set-backs

Oh dear. Michael Gove’s school reforms seem to have hit choppy waters already. For a start there is clearly no money to build all his  ‘free’ schools. The IT fund he hoped to raid for capital investment in this financial year is partly spent and, according to the Guardian, the Treasury is less than happy with his plans to divert funds from Building Schools for the Future leaving him with the shameful option of pinching money from children eligible for free school meals – an odd decision for someone who claims to care so deeply about the poor – or having to beg for more money, at a time of drastic public spending cuts, to build schools we don’t need.

But perhaps more worrying for him is the fact that the Academies Bill may not become law by the end of July, which means the thousands of new academies planned for September 1 can’t happen. One of the less commented on , but shocking, features of the Bill is that it contains a ‘pre commencement’ clause which would allow a governing body to agree the conversion and the Secretary of State to order the local authority to cease funding the existing school, without any consultation with parents, before the Bill even becomes law.

With 195 amendments already from Peers concerned about everything from consultation with parents, SEN pupils, admissions and the charitable status ( or not) of the new schools, its progress through the Lords is going to take much longer than expected. The Bill can’t now get through before the end of July unless normal procedures are suspended as they are for the wash-up before Parliament is dissolved or in the case of emergency legislation.

Presumably even Michael Gove won’t try and claim that  creating a few more academies is a national emergency, which will hopefully allow parents and governors to get to grips with what being an academy really means, and how much money they will actually get ( see other blogs on this site), before they make what is currently  an irrevocable decision as the Bill, in its current form, doesn’t allow any way back to maintained status and the support of the local authority.

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