A vision of greater state school independence has been set out by the new academies minister, with a prediction that “self-governing schools” will become the “dominant” model for secondary education.
Jim Knight’s comments, in an interview with the Financial Times, suggest Labour is determined to avoid being outflanked by the Conservatives as both parties vie to outbid each other in giving schools greater autonomy – a policy attractive to many families.
Mr Knight was schools minister but has now added academies to his responsibilities after Andrew Adonis’s move to transport in the recent cabinet reshuffle.
His first interview about academies since taking on the portfolio will soothe fears of sponsors and education officials over the departure of Lord Adonis, who conceived and ran the academies programme.
Sponsors are concerned that Ed Balls, the schools secretary, wants to give a bigger role to local authorities and is less enthusiastic about faith and independent schools becoming academies. Officials also say that without Lord Adonis’s “obsessive” commitment to establishing new academies, the programme will lose drive.