We expect all schools to be academies, or have plans in place to convert, by 2020 and all schools to be academies by 2022. By setting out our clear expectation for full academisation now, we can give schools, local authorities and dioceses the opportunity to plan effectively for a sustainable future and ensure that no school is left behind. We have set aside funding to support a high-quality, fully academised school system, including over £500 million available this Parliament to build capacity.
I support academies where people want them, but there is nothing worse than a top-down reorganisation of a public service for political, rather than sound policy, reasons. In response to a written question from me earlier this month, the Department confirmed that deficits for schools that convert will remain with the local authority. In my borough, over half of our schools will have deficits by 2017. How can the Government justify transferring this burden on to local councils, when it is their own funding of schools that is to blame?
I read the hon. Gentleman’s recent letter to the Ofsted lead for the north-west, Chris Russell, and I share his ambition to improve standards of education in Greater Manchester, but it is not a top-down reform; it is devolution in its purest form that gives control of schools to the professionals on the frontline. That is what this is about. He should be supporting the measures because they will raise academic standards right across our schools system.
This morning, I visited Springfield Primary School, in my constituency, which is run by the most dedicated professionals I have ever known—I had the privilege to teach there myself for the best part of a decade. They tell me that it is more than adequately supported by the Conservative local education authority in Trafford, and in Mike Freeman it has a brilliant LEA Labour councillor and school governor. Will the Minister join me in praising the school for all it does in my constituency and explain to it why its model, which is really good, needs to be changed?
We do not want the model under which that school operates to change; we want it to take the model it uses to raise standards and teach children well in, despite the loss of the hon. Gentleman as a teacher, and to spread that excellence to other schools in the area. That is the essence of the academies programme. It is about ensuring that every local school in every part of the country, beyond Trafford, has a good local school. That is the ambition. I hope he shares it.
I recently visited Jerry Clay academy, in my constituency, which has seen huge improvements under the leadership of the head, Tracy Swinburne. We should ensure that academies that have benefited from strong leadership are recognised and that they can support other schools through the creation of multi-academy trusts. Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating her and the academy on their success and inform me what steps the Government are taking to ensure that those in leadership positions in trusts are strong and effective?
I am pleased that the headteacher of Jerry Clay academy is exploring the possibility of joining a multi-academy trust. The regional schools commissioner has discussed the matter with the school and continues to support it as it considers the opportunity. We are supporting leaders of trusts to succeed in their vital role through programmes such as the successful multi-academy trust chief executive programme and the academy ambassadors programme, which have resulted in over 190 experienced business leaders joining trust boards.
We have now exceeded the time available for the Minister’s exam, and we come now to topical questions.