Richard Garner: Lesson number 1: it takes time to change the system

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Round one in the propaganda war between teachers' unions and Government ministers over the revamped academies programme goes to the teachers.

Education Secretary Michael Gove had said there were hundreds of schools queuing up to seek academy status. In the end, a paltry 32 have been give the go ahead for the start of the new academic year. The confusion comes as a result of the number of "hits" on a Department for Education website outlining the academies programme. In all 2,000 schools visited the site – which ministers unwisely viewed as evidence that they were considering a switch of status. They overlooked the fact that merely in order to log on to the site, schools had to register and give details of their names and addresses. They might just have been browsing – but their action was seized upon as evidence of support.

It would be wrong to judge support for the revamped programme at this stage. Some schools may well be consulting with parents and teachers before announcing they want to become academies. Michael Gove is learning the lesson of all Education Secretaries: it takes time to effect change.

But with 110 schools having already been granted permission to become academies later in the school year, it would be unwise to put all your money on continuing victories for the teaching unions in the future.

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