New education laws passed by Parliament

New laws which completed their passage through Parliament this week will mean that schools which are deemed to be failing will be forced to convert to academies.

The legislation laid out in the Education and Adoption Bill will affect any school which receives an “inadequate” rating from Ofsted inspectors.

Ministers estimate that there are around 1,000 institutions nationwide which would be affected by the new procedure.

The mechanism for dealing with failing schools was first outlined by the Department for Education last summer, with ministers making the case that it would means schools improved more quickly.

Once Ofsted has judged a school is performing below standards, the Education Secretary will be required to make an “academy order”, setting the wheels in motion for the school to leave local authority control.

“[The process] will sweep away the bureaucratic and legal loopholes previously exploited by those who put ideological objections above the best interests of children,” Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said at the time.

While this is the part of the Bill which has received the greatest attention, the laws also include provision for the Government to exercise discretionary powers and apply academy orders to so-called “coasting” schools.

The definition here is slightly more complicated than for those which are deemed to be failing, but essentially extends to those schools which have either failed to make adequate progress or to achieve a government-imposed standard over a period of three years.

In these circumstances, regional schools commissioners will be given some lee-way in determining whether a school has a credible plan for delivering improvements.

Ministers have said that the new measures, which are expected to take effect shortly after the Bill receives Royal Assent, will allow for a more consistent approach to schools which are struggling to meet standards.

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