Nicky Morgan: Government is fully committed to academies plan

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan answers questions from the Education Select Committee. Credit: House of Commons

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said the government is fully committed to all schools becoming academies by 2022.

Speaking to the Education Select Committee, Ms Morgan said it is "very important" for the education sector to know what the government's end goal is regarding the academisation plan.

"Six years is a long time - we've given schools a lot of time to work out what's going to be the right route and the method for them to become an academy," she said.

In his Budget speech in March, Chancellor George Osborne unveiled plans to turn 18,600 state schools into academies.

The proposals have been criticised by both Conservative and Labour MPs, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying the prime minister was wasting £1.3 billion on a "top-down reorganisation that wasn't in his manifesto".

Mr Corbyn clashed with the prime minister in a heated Prime Ministers Questions debate today, saying the "rocket boosters" on the government's "forced academisation proposals" were falling off.

The Daily Mail reported that the education secretary was discussing a range of possible concessions to appease up to 40 Tory MPs that are believed to be against the plan.

Potential compromises include allowing the best-performing councils to run their own academy chains.

However, Ms Morgan reiterated her commitment to the proposal to wrest control of schools from local authorities.

"We have a long tail of low attainment in this country of underachievement - 17% of students in the UK failed to reach modern functional literacy compared to just 11% in Canada," she said. "We want to be top in Europe for reading, writing, and maths."