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LGA - Queen's Speech: Councils comment on schools plans

Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board responded to the announcement of a Schools Bill in yesterday’s Queen's Speech, which will include legislation on turning coasting and failing schools into academies.

"Councils have taken a proactive role in supporting schools to become academies where this will help improve their performance, but are concerned that the Department for Education is unable to effectively support the rapid expansion in schools converting to academy status. Whitehall has acknowledged it lacks the capacity and local knowledge to oversee the 4,400 academies already in England. Councils, with their role at the heart of their community, are able to hold all schools in their areas to account for the quality of the education they provide and should be given the powers to do this.

"Like-for-like comparisons of academies and maintained schools show that legal status on its own does not bring the improved performance we need to see. Four in five council-maintained schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, a higher proportion than for other types of schools, and this demonstrates that councils know what they are doing and can be trusted to drive school improvement.

"The best way to intervene in struggling schools is to act swiftly and ensure there is strong leadership and good teaching. The focus of school improvement should be on the elements, like a great head teacher, which make up a good school, and what we can all do to make sure schools have access to these.

"Councils know what works best for their local areas and are ambitious for all children in their communities. We want to be able to intervene quickly in any school without having to wait for permission and we need the powers to be able to do this."

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