I am glad the government has taken on board the advice offered by those working in the education sector, with regards to the new academy proposals. Following discussions with local councils, teachers, governors and parents, the government will continue to focus on raising the standards and attainment levels of school, ensuring that all schools have the necessary support they need to do this.

Schools that are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted will be free to make the choice on whether, or not, to convert. I support the government’s decision to force schools to become academies where councils underperform, and where local education authorities fail to meet minimum performance thresholds. Ultimately, this will allow head teachers to have more power over the day-today running of the school, and to be able to prioritise the needs of their individual schoolIn March this year, 227 schools voluntarily applied for academy status, demonstrating the need for schools to convert to academies where there are low attainment levels.

I also welcome the department’s decision to protect rural schools from closure by implementing a ‘dual lock’ measure, which will require national and local government to agree to closure. These rural schools will also receive extra financial support under the new plans.

The government continues to listen to the views of those working in schools and the recent rethink in the new proposals highlights the effectiveness of open dialogue. The government’s priority continues to be, and will always be, to give every child the best start in life, whether that be in an academy school or state run school.