On Thursday Justine Greening made a short statement to the House of Commons on the subject Technical and Further Education. In total her speech consisted of five short paragraphs and the fourth paragraph was on a slightly different theme “The “Schools that work for everyone” consultation, which I announced in an oral statement to the House on 12 September, remains ongoing. This consultation asks how we can create more great school places in more parts of the country—including selective places for local areas that want them—and asks our independent schools, universities and faith schools to play their part in improving the quality of our state-funded schools. In addition, my Department has renewed its focus on ensuring everything we do drives towards improving social mobility with an emphasis on not just the most disadvantaged families but also on those that are just about managing. Our ambition remains that all schools should benefit from the freedom and autonomy that academy status brings. Our focus, however, is on building capacity in the system and encouraging schools to convert voluntarily. No changes to legislation are required for these purposes and therefore we do not require wider education legislation in this Session to make progress on our ambitious education agenda.”
This is the announcement that many people including myself had been waiting for, having argued extensively in this blog that forcing Schools to become academies was a mistake and counter to all of the words that have come out of the department for education regarding choice. The policy was also one that seemed to run counter to Conservative values of allowing local democratically appointed people to make decisions on behalf of those that elect them.
Well done Justine, thank you for making this statement, nevertheless you should be ashamed for hiding it away in this statement as it bears no relationship to the subject heading. This is the equivalent of an apology by a tabloid buried on page 23 when the original headline was in bold letters on page 1. It is time our Government was made up of people with real guts who were prepared to face up to their change of mind. That extends to people like Theresa May admitting her views on Europe before someone finds a recording of a speech and on Heathrow rather than treating us as if we are unable to search Hansard.