Local Government lobby on school academisation
Posted on: 20 May 2016
The Council’s Cabinet Member in charge of schools, Cllr James McInnes says he’s pleased that the Government has re-thought its proposals to force council maintained schools to become academies.
In an address to county councillors, Cllr McInnes told members that he was well aware of the growing discontent about the Government’s proposals from many school heads, teachers, governors and parents, as well as cross-party politicians. And that he is pleased that the Government’s re-think shows that ministers are listening.
The vast majority, some 70 per cent, of the 365 schools in Devon currently remain part of the local authority. Heads and governors say that they value their local identity and relationship with the council, which has a record for speaking out nationally in support of its schools.
The Government claimed that forced academisation would drive up standards, but Devon argued that over 91 per cent of its schools are judged by Ofsted to be good or outstanding – considerably higher than the national average, and higher than the average for academies.
National performance tables place Devon alongside the country’s top local authorities for many education measures.
Among parents concerns are the possible removal of a requirement for parent governors, and a lack of authentic consultation in the academy conversion process.
Cllr McInnes said that while people can remove him at the ballot box if they are not happy, the role of overseeing academy performance risked being passed to un-elected, faceless bureaucrats in London and Bristol.
“Schools have had the freedom to become academies for a number of years and just over a quarter have chosen to exercise that freedom.
“There is however no evidence to suggest that academisation necessarily improves performance, as the success of Devon’s maintained schools demonstrates.
“On behalf of the many parents, teachers, governors, and even some academy leaders, we have expressed our concerns to ministers including the Secretary of State, and to our Devon MPs.
“While the Government’s White Paper has some way to go, I am pleased that they are re-thinking their position, and will continue to allow schools the option to decide for themselves whether they wish to remain as maintained schools, rather than have academisation forced upon them.
“I’m hopeful too that the Government will decide against its proposed removal of funding to councils for school improvement next financial year, which would immediately disadvantage children attending maintained schools.”
Posted in: Education