There is no guarantee academies will drive up standards

There is no guarantee academies will drive up standards

I’m a huge advocate of driving up standards in our education system but when it comes to academies I wish the government would put on the brakes.

In his 2016 Budget, the Chancellor announced that all schools will become academies by 2022.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many advantages to schools having more autonomy as they are not subject to the whims and fancies of political interference.

And, if they are well run, academy chains can focus on what they believe works, and they can deliver this without being forced to conform.

But – and it’s a big but – having no co-ordination and co-operation the education system could be a very dangerous game to play, particularly at primary school level.

For me, it is at primary school level where we really need to drive up standards. If you don’t equip children with the fundamentals by 11 they will flounder at secondary school – and we will continue to languish at the bottom of the education league tables.

The National Curriculum has only just changed and is much improved in my opinion. We have not had a chance to see this embedded and if it will make a real difference to standards.

When all schools become academies the National Curriculum will have no traction.

In primary schools, we need to drive up standards in literacy and numeracy and the new National Curriculum, which is more rigorous and demanding, may well help achieve that.

Secondary academies have been shown to work in many cases but I’m very wary of loosening the controls on the primary system.

When children’s early education fails it is devastating – it translates itself into the secondary system and the long-term future of this country. Now that is something the budget should be concerned with.