EDUCATION secretary Michael Gove has pledged to remove sponsors of academies in Oxfordshire if they fail to turn them around.

During a visit to Abingdon yesterday Mr Gove said the Government would have to intervene if progress wasn’t made at failing schools.

The minister visited Kingfisher and John Mason schools with Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood and county council leader Ian Hudspeth.

He praised the leadership at John Mason, and commended the newly-formed Propeller Trust, which runs Kingfisher in a consortium with Fitzwaryn School and Abingdon and Witney College.

Asked about Oxford Academy – where just 26 per cent of pupils achieved five GCSE grades A* to C including English and maths last year after almost five years of academy status – Mr Gove admitted the policy wasn’t working at every school.

He said: “I think there is sometimes a case, if a particular academy sponsor isn’t bringing the improvement that’s necessary, to look at who should be running the school, and in many cases that will be allowing another academy sponsor to take over.

“It’s important to recognise that some of these schools have inherited profound problems and need a bit of time in order to be able to effect the changes.”

Oxford Academy is sponsored by the Diocese of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University and the Beecroft Trust.

Diocesan spokesman Sarah Meyrick said: “We are collaborating with the Department for Education to raise standards and we are confident we are on track towards improvement.

“In their most recent report, Ofsted accepted our academy improvement plan and declared it fit for purpose.”

Mr Gove said Oxfordshire County Council had taken time “to appreciate” the value of the academies system, and said he expected a change under the relatively new leadership of Ian Hudspeth.

He said: “The fact we have the local county councillor and the county council leader here re-enforces the fact that Oxfordshire is now under a leadership that wants to put educational excellence at the heart of everything it does.

“It takes a bit of time sometimes for some local authorities to appreciate the potential of the academies programme to raise attainment for students and to enhance the collaboration that’s been there before.”

He called on Oxfordshire teachers to work with the Department for Education and the council to improve attainment.

He said: “We will only succeed if we work together. There has never been a better time to be a teacher, and the route to improving the lives of the children and young people we care about most is empowering teachers to be able to make more changes to the schools.”

But his comments were rejected by National Union of Teachers spokesman and St Ebbe’s Primary School teacher Gawain Little.

He said: “Unfortunately, although teaching is an incredibly rewarding job, at the moment it’s a very difficult time for teachers.

“This is for a number of reasons, and many relate to Mr Gove’s government, like the cuts they are forcing on to education which mean every child is having less and less money spent on them.”