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LGA responds to academy school reports about plans to convert all schools to academy status
Cllr Roy Perry, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, responds to reports that the budget announcement will include plans to convert all schools to academy status.
"Ofsted has rated 82 per cent of council maintained schools as good or outstanding, so it defies reason that councils are being portrayed as barriers to improvement. Ofsted has not only identified that improvement in secondary schools - most of which are academies - has stalled, but it has praised strong improvement in primary schools, most of which are maintained. Additionally, only 15 per cent of the largest academy chains perform above the national average in terms of progress made by pupils, compared with 44 per cent of councils. It's vital that we concentrate on the quality of education and a school's ability to deliver the best results for children, rather than on the legal status of a school, to make sure that we're providing the education and support needed in each area.
"Forcing schools to become academies strips parents, teachers and faith groups of any local choice. We have serious concerns that Regional Schools Commissioners still lack the capacity and local knowledge to have oversight of such a large, diverse and remote range of schools. The LGA opposes both forced academisation, and giving significant powers relating to education to unelected civil servants with parents and residents unable to hold them to account at the ballot box.
"Councils have been forced to spend millions of pounds to cover the cost of schools becoming academies in recent years, while the National Audit Office estimated that in 2012, the Department for Education spent an additional £1 billion on the cost of the academies programme. With mixed evidence about academisation improving standards, and when public spending is facing significant cuts, imposing academisation on schools regardless of local opinion cannot be an appropriate use of public money."
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