The education secretary has risked the ire of the country’s local authority-run community schools saying it was “no longer viable” for schools to be run as “single entities” and that they needed “the safety net of a strong family.”
Gavin Williamson said that the pandemic had proven it was necessary for schools to be part of larger MATs, and all state schools in England should join one, the I newspaper reports.
While about half of state educated pupils are currently taught in academies, Mr Williamson said he wanted “to turn that 50 per cent of pupils studying in academies into 100 per cent”.
“The Government’s vision is for every school to be part of a family of schools in a strong multi-academy trust,” he said.
He added: “I want to see us break away from our current pick and mix structure of a school systems and move towards a single model, one that is built on a foundation of strong multi-academy trusts, and I’m actively looking at how we can make that happen.”
A pilot programme with the Church of England and the Catholic Church will look at setting up new church academy trusts, and the Department for Education has launched a “try before you buy” scheme to allow schools to link up with chains for a trial period before deciding whether they want to convert.
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said converting to academy status could be a positive step but his association supported schools who chose not to do so.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he supported increasing and strengthening collaboration between schools but was concerned about the government’s obsession with a narrow kind of school structure.