The Government could nationalise private schools hit by the recession by turning them into state-funded academies, it has been reported.
Headteachers predict that fee-charging schools struggling in the current economic climate may join the scheme to combat the threat of closure. Jim Knight, the schools minister, told a newspaper that the Government would consider applications for academy status from fee-charging schools affected by the downturn in areas where there was demand for more school places. "The current economic situation might lead to a greater interest in the academies programme from independent schools. "We will continue to consider applications from independent schools in areas where there is a need for additional good secondary school places, and where that independent school becoming an academy can support this goal," he said. Some parents are deserting the private sector and it is thought that thousands of pupils may seek places at already stretched state schools this September, the newspaper said. Five private schools, including two in Bristol, have already joined the academies scheme and another is to follow in September. The scheme will allow private schools in England to convert to academy status by dropping fees and entry tests, promising to comply with the admissions code and teaching the core national curriculum, The Guardian said. They will gain state funding but retain more independence around employing staff and their wider curriculum than other state schools. Academy schools are semi-independent state schools set up with backing from private sponsors.(Ananova)