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Gove to introduce regulators for free schools

New ‘Chancellors’ will be appointed to regulate free schools and academies, it has been reported.

Education secretary Michael Gove is to introduce the new regulators with the power to take control of failing schools, according to internal DfE documents seen by the Guardian.

Under the proposals, England would be split into eight geographical regions, separate from local councils and supervised by the new Headteacher Board (HTB) and headed by a Chancellor.

It’s a model already in use in the US. Chancellors would be appointed by the DfE along with six heads of successful local academies and free schools, elected by all the heads of schools in the region.

The HTBs will have the power to investigate free schools and academies and change the management at failing institutions. The scheme is reported to launch next month, and be up and running by the time of the next election.

A Whitehall source told the Guardian: “We are building a long-term architecture for a new system: a limited focus on failing academies, minimal bureaucracy, no local politics, and led by great heads who know their local area. We've been working on this for about a year, it will be embedded before the next election and, hopefully, it will be supported by all three parties.”

But Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, said: “The government's aggressive free-market education strategy has not delivered the improvements we need. Michael Gove is at last starting to consider following the Labour party's lead – we have been clear that the secretary of state cannot run thousands of schools from Whitehall.

“But these plans will fall far short of what is needed. For high standards in all schools we need real local accountability and oversight.”

And Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Opinion is pretty united on the fact that there ought to be something between schools and the secretary of state. The idea that we should have some organisation with local knowledge and insight operating between the two is right, but we need to know the detail.

“In particular, we need more information on how local authorities would fit into this new structure, since we would want to avoid duplication and 90% of primary schools still look to their local authority for local oversight.”

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