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Teachers heckle schools minister

Nick Gibb Image caption Mr Gibb faced jeers from teachers as he defended plans to force all schools to become academies

The schools minister Nick Gibb has been heckled by teachers as he defended government plans to turn all schools in England into academies.

To jeers of "rubbish", Mr Gibb told the Association of Teachers a fully academised education system would be "profession led".

The schools minister was taking part in a question an answer session at the ATL's annual conference in Liverpool.

Mr Gibb said schools that had already become academies had flourished.

But his comments failed to win over his audience.

Under the plans almost 17,000 schools which have not already converted to academy status - mostly primaries - must do so by 2020 or have committed to do so by 2022.

The plan has drawn criticism from teachers, unions and Tory local councillors.

Asked to defend it, Mr Gibb said: "I'm spending time talking to colleagues who have expressed a concern.

"But the whole academies programme is about having a profession-led system, so that the profession is in charge and not local authority officials. That's the system we're moving to.

"If you talk to head teachers who become heads of academies, they have flourished."

One audience member shouted "rubbish" while a handful of others jeered and some laughed at the minister's suggestions.

At its conference over Easter, the National Union of Teachers voted to ballot for strike action over the academies plan.

But Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has ruled out the prospect of a change of heart.

Speaking at the NASUWT conference which took part over the same weekend in Birmingham Mrs Morgan said there would be "no pulling back" and "no reverse gear" on the government's education reforms, including the controversial roll-out of academy schools in England.

Labour has said its own analysis of official figures suggests the plan could cost £1.3bn with a shortfall in funding over £1.1bn - a suggestion dismissed by the government as "completely untrue".

Image copyright JEFF OVERS Image caption l

Speaking in Liverpool, Mr Gibb said: "They're not right, they haven't taken into account money made available in the Spending Review. Labour, when they did their calculations, did not look at that."

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, who addressed the conference after Mr Gibb, said the government needed to rethink its forced academisation plan.

Ms Powell advised schools to take their time to make plans to become academies or sign up with a multi academy trust.

"Schools have got to find the right security and the right fit for them going forward."

Ms Powell compared the forced academy programme with the recent top down reorganisation of the National Health Service.

But she would not commit a future Labour government to reversing the programme.

"I don't want to say now... that there is going to be another costly reorganisation of the school system."

However she did say she would like to see robust local oversight of schools which would be lacking if mass academisation goes ahead.

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