Tory MPs are increasingly convinced that the government may back down on some of its plans for forced academisation of all schools, I understand.
The Commons is currently holding an Opposition Day debate on the plans, confirmed in last month’s Budget. They have upset a good number of Conservative MPs and councillors, not least because they appear to contradict the government’s commitment to localism. A large number of MPs are complaining in the debate about the dangers of imposing the academy model on all schools, and removing the requirement for academies to have parent governors. Nicky Morgan has been arguing that the government doesn’t want to scrap parent governors, but her arguments don’t seem to be calming colleagues, and those pushing against the reform believe that they have more than enough colleagues on board to stop it from going ahead in its current form. Certainly the tone of the debate suggests that the plans are not going to go ahead as they are.
Loyal Tory MPs are also being encouraged to talk about the reforms that the government announced in the autumn to the schools funding formula, in order to neutralise some of the criticisms from their own side. When there’s an operation like this under way, with the party handing out ‘helpful’ questions, you know that ministers are on the defensive.
UPDATE, 5.40pm: Departmental sources have been in touch to insist that no U-turn is on the cards on this, and that they are going to spend the next few weeks engaging with the MPs who have raised concerns.