Latest Public Sector News

09.07.14

LGA calls for local education trusts to oversee all school

Schools should be held accountable to local education trusts rather than Whitehall, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

Under new plans, the Association is calling on the next government to establish local education trusts, “stripping away the existing bureaucracy” around schools to create one point of contact for every parent, regardless of the type of school their child attends.

Currently, councils are responsible for 84% of schools but “lack adequate powers” to hold them to account. And the stock of 3,500 academies and free schools are accountable to Whitehall, which “acknowledges that it lacks the capacity and local knowledge to provide oversight,” the LGA claims.

But the Department for Education (DfE) has stated that academies take power away from politicians and, instead, give it to the heads and teachers “who know their pupils best”.

However, the LGA states that education trusts could be set up in every area and would be free to set up a model which best suits their needs – meaning there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

The Association added: “The model will vary from area to area, but ultimate accountability for every school would rest with the local authority. It is a model which reflects the best practice which already exists in many council areas.”

By doing this, education trusts would play a key role in school improvement and would help drive all schools to an Ofsted rating of at least good. Under the proposed system, schools would also be able to support each other to improve and maintain their good and outstanding ratings, allowing Ofsted to focus on schools which require improvement.

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: “The current two-tier system of accountability is confusing for mums and dads to navigate and with different organisations responsible for different elements of education, there are too many possibilities for issues raised by mums and dads to slip through the net.

“Education trusts would strip away this bureaucracy and provide an easily-identifiable place which parents can turn to. Someone has to take responsibility for the accountability of schools and with local knowledge and links to the community councils are ideally placed to take this role on their education trust.”

But a DfE spokesman stated: “Academies take power away from politicians and bureaucrats and give it to the heads and teachers who know their pupils best. Results are rising faster in sponsored academies than in council-run schools, and converter academies are more likely to improve their Ofsted rating.

“We are strengthening the failure regime for academies through the new Regional Schools Commissioners and Head Teacher Boards. This will ensure swift action is taken in the small number of cases where academies are struggling. It is thanks to this government's reforms that the number of pupils being taught in failing secondary schools has fallen by 250,000 since 2010.”

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