Demos Responds to the Government’s Education Bill

Ralph Scott, Senior Researcher at Demos, responds to the Education Bill announced in the 2015 Queen’s Speech:

Since 2010, the Government has put rocket-boosters under the academies programme, radically changing the landscape of our schools system. The focus of this Bill shows that Nicky Morgan intends to continue what Michael Gove started, making it easier for schools to become academies and including so-called ‘coasting’ schools in this remit.

These changes are significant – with PISA evidence showing that Vietnam has overtaken the UK in reading and maths, standards are as important as they have ever been. But the real pressures in education policy over this Parliament will be a squeeze on both places and finances, and it’s not clear how shaking up structures will help resolve these.

Equally, it maintains the environment of high-stakes accountability that has led to problems with recruitment and retention, particularly of school leaders. It’s also unfortunate there is no provision for character education in the proposed Bill – but I would expect changes to the inspectorate and the curriculum in the coming months to reflect this Department priority.