Chancellor George Osborne will wade into the education debate today, using the Budget to push for longer school days, giving schools across England the chance to bid for new funding to provide at least five extra hours per week of lessons or other activities.
In a controversial move that has already been criticised by the Local Government Association (LGA), Osborne will also pledge to convert every maintained school into an academy, by announcing plans to require schools to convert by 2020 or have an academy order in place by the end of the decade. If schools do not comply, Osborne will say, the government will “take on radical new powers to intervene” and facilitate conversion.
The LGA has disputed the success of existing academies, and argued that forcing schools to become academies “strips parents, teachers and faith groups of any local choice”.
According to the Treasury, Osborne will say today that he is allocating more than £1.5bn in additional funding for education over this parliament.
“The Budget I’ll deliver today will put the next generation first. And at its heart will be a bold plan to make sure that every child gets the best start in life,” Osborne said. “It is simply unacceptable that Britain continues to sit too low down the global league tables for education. So I’m going to get on with finishing the job we started five years ago, to drive up standards and set schools free from the shackles of local bureaucracy.
“Now is the time us to make the bold decisions and the big investments that will help the next generation, and that is what my Budget today will do.”