Tories power ahead with academies programme

By staff

Schools would no longer need to consult a local authority before becoming an academy if the Tories win power, Michael Gove will announce today.

The shadow education secretary will map out a rapid conversion process for academies and claim he will bring in a new education bill within days of a Conservative victory at the general election.

Today’s promise, which would see hundreds more schools become academies, confirms David Cameron’s long term plans to frame himself as an ‘heir-to-Blair’.

Early in Gordon Brown’s administration, the Tory leader tried to suggest only the Tories would force through New Labour’s reforms against the stubborn backdrop of a reluctant prime minister.

The policy on academies – originally a Labour policy but one now supported by all three political parties – is a case in point as the Tories enthusiastically try to outdo Labour on their own policy agenda.

“We need a new generation of independent state schools run by teachers who know your child’s name, not by politicians,” Mr Gove is expected to tell a meeting of head teachers later today.

Ofsted would be made to concentrate on the worst schools, with the best education providers exempt from Ofsted inspections.

Last week, Mr Brown and schools secretary Ed Balls announced the next stage of the government’s academies programme. With primaries now included in the scheme and branding allowing proven educational providers to take charge of a string of schools.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will also focus on schools today with a pledge to dedicate £2.5 billion to help cut school class sizes.