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West Sussex council leader writes to Education Secretary to protest academy plans

Turning all schools in the country into academies risks hurting the most vulnerable pupils, the Conservative leader of West Sussex County Council has said in a letter to Nicky Morgan, the secretary for education.

Cllr Louise Goldsmith wrote following a meeting on 15 April in which councillors expressed opposition to the plans, laid out in a white paper following last month’s Budget.

Despite the fact that West Sussex has a large Conservative majority of 44 out of 71 councillors, the authority has criticised central government’s education policy.

In her letter, which she also sent to all head teachers in West Sussex, Cllr Goldsmith said that although the council supported the idea of improving educational standards, a ‘one size fits all’ introduction of mass academisation risked taking away necessary council powers to intervene in schools.

Cllr Goldsmith said: “We have very specific concerns about how vulnerable children will fare under the proposals – a statutory responsibility that will rightly remain with the council but with very few powers to help us to fulfil that duty.”

A National Audit Office report this week pointed out flaws in the Department for Education’s accounts keeping, which mean that it cannot give an adequate idea of how much it is spending on academies.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “Our white paper reforms are the next step in ensuring every child has access to an excellent education by putting control in the hands of the teachers and school leaders who know their pupils best.”

(Image c. Joe Giddens from PA Wire)


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