Every council-run school in south west Hertfordshire will become an academy within six years under new government plans.

Chancellor George Osborne said he wants to "put the next generation first" with plans which also include longer school days.

It will mean that every school in the region that’s not already an academy, private school or a free school will have to convert by 2020 or have official plans to do so by 2022.

The news has been met with criticism from headteachers and teaching unions.

Edward Conway, headteacher of St Michael Catholic High School in Garston, told the Observer: "I am sceptical about all schools being forced to become academies.

"It seems to be ideologically driven with no evidence of such a programme in itself leading to overall school improvement.

"I am uncomfortable about forcing schools down such a route and would prefer to see choice for schools."

Alan Gray, chairman of the Hertfordshire Schools’ Forum – made up mostly of headteachers – said converting all schools into academies would not solve staffing issues.

He said: "The key factors affecting educational outcomes are the quality of leadership and standard of teaching. Both are directly influenced by factors not related to academies – but to recruitment.

"With regards to standard of teaching, the issue of teacher recruitment is the most concerning issue in the profession. Teacher recruitment is in a crisis because of working conditions and pay.

"Academisation is not the holy grail – it may be a different way of working and over time, become better than the old local authority model but it requires significant monitoring and support from central government who, up to know have shown little ability to carry out this task."

Academy status, introduced by a Labour government, was originally reserved for schools in urgent need of improvement, but since 2010 schools have been encouraged to convert and have been given extra funding for doing so.

Mr Osborne told MPs today he is allocating an extra £1.5bn in the budget to increase classroom standards to help pupils match the levels of their international counterparts.

Draft legislation, to be published within days, will begin the process of implementing a pledge made by David Cameron in his conference speech last autumn.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “These are entirely the wrong proposals and priorities for education.

“The proposals to force all schools to become academies will result in the dismantling of state education and will end democratic accountability in our schools.

"Proposals will leave parents, pupils, teachers and communities without a voice or a choice in their schools. This is a backward and irresponsible step which must be reversed.”