Pledge to turn 3,500 “coasting” schools into academies

Thousands of “coasting” state schools will be forced to become academies in an ‘all-out war on mediocrity’ if the Conservatives remain in power.

Up to 3,500 primary and secondary schools judged to require improvement by watchdogs will be at risk of being taken over by new head teachers, backed by other successful academies or expert sponsors.

David Cameron said the policy represented a ‘turbo-charging’ of the existing academies programme started by Labour.

Currently only schools judged ‘inadequate’ can be converted against their will, while outstanding secondary and primary schools can apply for academy status, which affords them key freedoms from state control.

Mr Cameron said: “As parents we’re hardwired to want the best for our kids. No one wants their child to go to a failing school – and no one wants to them to go to a coasting school either.

“So this party is clear. “Just enough” is not good enough. That means no more sink schools – and no more “bog standard” schools either.

“We’re waging an all-out war on mediocrity, and our aim is this: the best start in life for every child, wherever they’re from – no excuses.”

The speech follows a pledge that a Conservative Government would ring fence spending on primary and secondary education until 2020.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan said that there would be a new emphasis on the “three R’s” of reading, writing and arithmetic.

The Conservatives’ plans also puts further clear water between them and their Coalition partners. The Liberal Democrat Education Minister David Laws has criticised the oversight of academies, saying that local supervision needs to be improved.

The acceleration of the academies programme is likely to raise concerns among some education experts.

Last week, a report published by the Commons Education Select Committee, says it is too early to know whether academies and free schools will be a “positive force for change”.

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