U.K. Waters Down School Reform Plan Announced in March Budget

  • Schools will no longer be forced to join academies program
  • Policy reversal followed protests from teachers and parents

U.K. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced she’s watering down plans, announced in the Budget in March, to force every state school to become an academy independent of local-council control.

The proposal had been unpopular with lawmakers in the governing Conservative Party, who were on the receiving end of complaints from teachers and parents. The policy will no longer be compulsory, Morgan said. The education secretary was heckled when she addressed a teaching conference shortly after the Budget.

“I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools to become academies,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “However, having listened to the feedback from parliamentary colleagues and the education sector, we will now change the path to reaching that goal.”

The policy reversal is the latest in a series on measures announced in the Budget, including welfare cuts for people with disabilities and sales tax on solar panels and tampons. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne joked last week to journalists that he was on the 5:2 diet: “After two out of every five Budgets, I eat my words.”

“It is frankly a humiliating climbdown for David Cameron and his education secretary, who just weeks ago were insisting they would plow on with the policy regardless,” the main opposition Labour Party’s education spokeswoman, Lucy Powell, said in an e-mailed statement.

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