Council rejects school academies proposals

GV - Shire Hall, Warwick. NNL-161201-211317009
GV - Shire Hall, Warwick. NNL-161201-211317009
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Warwickshire County Council has rejected the Government’s controversial plans to turn all English schools into independently-run academies by 2020.

A call to reject plans to take education away from local authority control and into the hands of independent charitable trusts, was supported by councillors across all parties at a meeting on Thursday.

Warwickshire County Council Leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe. ENGNNL00120130606152650

Warwickshire County Council Leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe. ENGNNL00120130606152650

County council leader Izzi Seccombe has now written to the Department for Education voicing “great concern” about the changes, which members said were not the right way forward and should not be enforced.

The letter states: “We feel the forced academisation of schools takes choice away from parents and communities and removes local, democratic control. “This places us, and all other local authorities, in an impossible position.

“It creates a period of five years when local authorities will be responsible for maintaining schools and will be the nominal employer of the staff in those schools, but will have no remit to monitor, support or challenge the quality of education they provide.

“Local authorities continue to be regarded by parents as the first port of call when they have a problem.

This places us, and all other local authorities, in an impossible position

Izzi Seccombe

“This is likely to have a significant impact on issues such as school place planning, fair access and provision for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.”

Academies are independent schools, which receive funding directly from central government rather than through a local authority.

Radical proposals set in a White Paper launch last month by education secretary Nicky Morgan include for all schools to either become academies, or be in the process of converting, by 2020.

She described the paper as: “A blueprint for how we can work together, not just to improve standards but to create a fundamentally different education system”.

Deputy leader Cllr Alan Cockburn,deputy leader. ENGNNL00120130606152738

Deputy leader Cllr Alan Cockburn,deputy leader. ENGNNL00120130606152738

Academies were set up to help failing schools mainly in deprived areas and all schools had the option to convert.

The head teacher and governors manage the running of the school but this is overseen by one of several charitable trusts. Academies control their own admissions process.

The move could also have a major impact on council owned land where schools are built, as it is thought that this would automatically transfer to the government to be leased back to the school.

Cllr Alan Cockburn, deputy council leader, said: “We have send a strong objection after agreeing that you cannot treat all schools the same.

“Some will do better as academies, a lot, such as many primaries, will not and we do not agree that this is the right way for education to go.

“The legislation also gives a terrible deal for the council and all parties are against it.”

The Government will continue to consult on a wider set of changes for schools in the coming weeks.

Birmingham City Council and Leicester City Council have also voiced concerns over the move this week as councils across the UK debate potential changes.

What do you think? Email us at news@leamingtoncourier.co.uk or editorial@kenilworthweeklynews.co.uk to have your say.