Statement from Cllr Warren Morgan, Leader of the Council, supported by Cllr Tom Bewick and Cllr Dan Chapman, Chair and Deputy Chair of Children, Young People and Skills Committee.
“We value and support all our local schools including our academy schools. But it’s disheartening and frustrating to hear the government’s announcement that they want all schools in England to convert to become an academy, a policy which under this Government is much more about ideological endeavour than about school improvement.
Ofsted have already highlighted serious concerns about some Multi Academy Trusts and the performance in their schools and with 82% of local authority maintained schools rated either good or outstanding it’s hard to justify forcing schools to become an academy.
Forcing schools to become an academy and join a MAT takes the focus in the school away from improvement and the outcomes of the children and instead focuses their attention to the conversion. MATs and especially some of the larger chains are becoming more and more centralised, removing local governing bodies and distancing themselves further away from the school they run.
The government needs to recognise that local authorities are in a unique position of having the best knowledge for the local area which is essential to plan school places and ensure provisions are equally and appropriately distributed. The government is taking this ability away from local authorities, which will lead, in the future, to greater inequality and disparities between schools.
We need our schools to be focused on the outcomes of children not worrying about their external structure and how they will be maintained. Our schools need to be locally accountable to parents, governors and communities. Forcing schools to join large MATs denies local residents this fundamental right.
If the Government insists on this approach then we intend to look at establishing a co-operative trust to run our schools, maintaining as much local control as possible and preventing multi-academy trusts from cherry-picking the popular schools and leaving the rest to struggle. We want all schools in the city to be excellent schools, and will work on defending them from what is an ideological assault on both education and local councils.”
We fully support the Aldridge Foundation, which we regard as a local sponsor, and which was established under Labour’s academy programme. They have invested huge amounts in our schools to improve educational outcomes in areas with previously lower attainment.