Commenting on the Government’s raft of new measures designed to ‘boost standards’, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“No matter how many times the Government argues that more academies and free schools raise standards, the fact of the matter is that they are no more successful in doing so than local authority schools.

“Further expansion of free schools will result in more unused pupil places and more complications for parents trying to navigate the system and secure a place for their child.

“School-to-school collaboration is greatly hampered by schools competing against one another for pupils and for higher places in school league tables. Financial incentives to collaborate are unlikely to mitigate the bad effects of competition between schools.

“All schools should be accountable to parents and pupils, so ending the exemption for outstanding schools seems fair. The problem, however, is that Ofsted is not a fair or reliable arbitrator of school standards. We need a new accountability system.”