Education Secretary Justine Greening has said that she is scrapping her predecessor Nicky Morgan’s plans to get rid of parents on school governing boards.
As reported by the BBC, she has told the Commons Education Committee that parents play “a vital role” in school improvement.
Nicky Morgan’s initial proposal was made in March, which sparked an outcry from MPs, schools and teaching unions. At the time, Jeremy Corbyn called the plans an attack on parents, whilst David Cameron defended them, saying that they did not mean parents would play no role in governing bodies.
The plans, originally released in the Education For All White Paper, said that:
“We will no longer require academy trusts to reserve places for elected parents on governing boards.
“We will offer this freedom to all open and new academies, and as we move towards a system where every school is an academy, fully skills-based governance will become the norm across the education system.”
The Conservatives have come under intense scrutiny recently over various education plans. They have received criticism for both Morgan’s and Michael Gove’s plans to turn all schools into academies, as well as the recent proposal that accidentally came to light to support more grammar schools in the UK.
Liberal Democrat education spokesman John Pugh said:
“This will undoubtedly be the first of many climbs down from a Secretary of State left to defend the indefensible. The government’s education policy is all over the place.
How can you consult on a grammar schools green paper, when everything could be changed by the academy White Paper? It’s a shambles. Recognition of the pivotal role of parents in running schools is the sort of common sense which does not suit the ideologues framing government educational policy.”
Justine Greening, however, has defended the Conservative Party’s stance, saying:
“One way we can ensure that schools who are doing a less good job improve is getting parents more involved.
“Often, and I’ve seen this as a constituency MP, when schools turn around it’s when parents become more engaged and more invested in the school’s success and that helps build the school from the outside as well as the hard work teachers are doing on the inside.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years to do but parents are part of how success gets delivered so I do not think we should proceed with that.”
According to BT News, Greening also told the committee that she did support Ms Morgan’s aims for all state schools in England to become academies, but that her main concern was raising the standards of schools that were under-performing:
“I do want to see all schools over time become academies but I think our focus has got to be on the schools that are struggling and not doing well enough for children at the moment.”
At the same committee, Greening was also questioned on the government’s proposal to open new grammar schools.
Greening was asked by Michelle Donelan, the Conservative MP for Chippenham, to show evidence that grammar schools improved social mobility for those who failed entrance exams. Greening replied, “You talk about evidence, Michelle – what about getting some evidence and opening one in deprived areas?”