Nick Gibb MP is the Minister of State for Schools.
Too few schools are outstanding – that was the unambiguous picture painted in this week’s Ofsted annual report. Just 20 per cent of English schools currently merit that rating. Too many are becalmed, coasting. But this government will never be satisfied with a “good enough” education system. We are determined to make excellence and high academic standards available to everyone. That is why the Education Act, which received Royal Assent last week, is so important. It embeds two essentials that schools need if they are to deliver the type of education parents want for their children: inspirational teachers freed from tedious, irrelevant bureaucracy, and disciplined classrooms where the teachers, not the pupils, are in control.
Since coming to office, this Government has already created over 1,200 academies where teachers are protected from local authority meddling and have freedom to do things like teach a more demanding curriculum or lengthen the school day. Instead of being forced to accept services provided by inefficient council bureaucracies, they can purchase them from whoever is able to provide the best service at the best price. Headteachers control how they pay their staff. That means they can reward excellence and hard work and ensure they keep their best staff.
Our new Education Act widens the power to create even more academies. Where councils have shown themselves to be incapable of raising standards, the Department now has the authority to force councils to take action and begin the process of handing schools over to those who know how to run good schools, such as the growing number of academy chains. Failing schools are not fair on pupils' life chances and, as a Government, we will not tolerate them.