I want every child to have the best start in life, with an excellent education that gives them the opportunity of a bright future. That is what this Government's academies programme has been all about - it has given excellent leaders and teachers more freedom to deliver the best start in life our children deserve, and the results speak for themselves.
We now have 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, primary sponsored academies have improved their results by 10 per cent in average - more than double the rate of improvement in local authority maintained schools and secondary converter academies are performing 7.2 per cent above the national average. Recent figures show that 350,000 children are studying in sponsored academies rated 'good' or 'outstanding' schools which were previously suffering from chronic underperformance.
The Government wants to build on this success so that every school can benefit from the autonomy and strong accountability of academy status. Even excellent schools should have the freedom that academy status brings so that they can improve even further - no school can afford to stand still. People will have important questions about this process and I am glad that Ministers have undertaken to listen to these as this policy is implemented.
The Government believes that academies are better for pupils, as schools have the freedom to respond to pupils' individual needs, implement best practice and new innovations much more rapidly, as well as giving the Government the ability to root out failure and complacency as soon as it is found. It believes they are better for parents, as rigorous accountability for performance will mean parents have more choice of good schools and have assurance that their children are getting the best education possible in order for them to fulfil their potential.
Ministers also believe they are also better for teachers, who are put in the driving seat, giving them freedom to innovate and respond to pupils' needs, and giving headteachers the freedom to set pay in order to recruit and retain good teachers.
I recognise that given the numbers of academies the future will be based on multi-academy trusts working in collaboration across different schools and it is therefore inevitable that the role of local education authorities will diminish.
My own view is that the process should be governed by a principle of co-operation, collaboration, and choice and not compulsion. I will therefore be scrutinising future legislation to ensure these principles are respected.
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