Bucks County Council leader welcomes government U-turn on forced academisation

Bucks County Council
Bucks County Council
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The government’s U-turn over the forced academisation of schools has been welcomed by County Hall leader Martin Tett.

Chancellor George Osborne, had first announced the plans in theBudget, which would have forced all state schools currently under council control to start becoming academies by no later than 2022.

The policy attracted widespread criticism, including from Conservative-controlled Bucks County Council.

Leader Martin Tett wrote a letter to education minister Nicky Morgan outlining the authority’s concerns.

But following the backtrack, he said: “I think this is really good news. I am really glad the government has decided to have a rethink on this.

“It is good they are listening to local councils and to parents and they have come to a very sensible decision.”

In his letter to Mrs Morgan, Mr Tett told her the authority had ‘significant concerns’ over the policy.

“As a strongly Conservative County Council we are normally supportive of Conservative policy. There are times however when we feel that it is also important to be a ‘critical friend’ on aspects of policy as they develop, particularly those that were not included in last year’s election Manifesto.”

He listed seven ‘key concerns’ including the cost to schools of converting and the loss of council support staff helping struggling schools.

Mr Tett raised the ‘contradiction of local authorities remaining legally responsible for ensuring sufficient school places are provided in their area whilst at the same time having little of no ability to enable the provision of such places’.

He also criticised the ‘loss of democratic accountability for schools from local communities and the transfer of this to remote unelected, central government appointed Regional Commissioners’ which oversee academies.”

In a statement the Department for Education maintained that the ‘academy programme puts control of running schools in the hands of teachers and school leaders – the people who know best how to run their schools’.

Mrs Morgan added: “I am today reaffirming our determination to see all schools to become academies. However, having listened to the feedback from Parliamentary colleagues and the education sector we will now change the path to reaching that goal.”