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Primary schools should be forced to join academy chains

23 September 2014

This is the controversial conclusion of a report released today by the think tank The Policy Exchange entitled ‘The next stage of improvement for primary schools in England’. This warns of a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges ahead for primary schools, including a new curriculum and assessment system, toughening up of SATs tests, a decline in leadership capacity and a reduction in local authority support for schools.

It predicts that by 2016 over 3300 primary schools will fail to hit national targets and concludes that the way to stop this is for the Government to force primary schools to become academies and join formal chains. It also recommends that remaining secondary schools should be forced to convert to academies.

The Policy Exchange is right-leaning and was set up by, amongst others, Michael Gove, perhaps the strongest proponent of the academies programme. Nevertheless the challenges facing primaries are undeniable and whether they are allowed to choose their response or have it forced upon them may well depend on the outcome of the forthcoming election.

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