James Gray MP with representatives from Google and The Countryside Alliance Foundation
James at The Springfields Academy
James with representatives of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards during a Welcome Home Event for 20th Armoured Brigade
James Gray MP welcoming representatives of 20th Armoured Brigade to Parliament
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): How many special schools have converted to academies in (a) North Wiltshire constituency, (b) the south-west and (c) England since May 2010.
The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): Special schools became eligible to apply for academy status in November 2010 and to become academies from 1 September 2011. There are 16 special schools now open as academies in England, four of which are in the south-west, and of these, one of the first to become an academy on 1 September 2011 is in North Wiltshire.
James Gray MP The Secretary of State is absolutely right to praise the Springfields academy in Calne, one of the very first special schools to achieve academy status, but does he agree that, although in Wiltshire we have a very helpful and supportive local authority, elsewhere it might be much more difficult for special schools to achieve academy status? What can he do to remove the slightly tortuous and bureaucratic process that the Springfields academy had to go through in order to make it easier for other schools in the same position?
Mr Gove I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the case of the Springfields academy, which is an outstanding school that does wonderful work for children with behavioural, emotional or social difficulties and those on the autistic spectrum. I am also grateful that the local authority has been so constructive. As he points out, some local authorities are not so constructive. We are working, gently but firmly, with all local authorities from London and elsewhere to ensure that their schools see the benefits of academy status.
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