Laura Sharman 10 February 2017

Councils call for power to turn around failing academies

Councils have called for new powers to help transform struggling schools, including the ability to sponsor schools that have been classified as unviable.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said ‘bureaucratic barriers’ should be lifted to allow high performing council schools to take on the running of failing academies. They said being able to sponsor ‘orphan schools’ would also provide struggling small rural schools with more protection.

Research by the LGA found 91% of council maintained schools are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: ‘The Government must commit to removing the unnecessary red tape and give high performing maintained schools the option of becoming academy sponsors. ‘Councils want to be regarded as improvement partners, not obstructionists to school improvement. Hundreds of schools across the country continue to be turned around thanks to the intervention of councils and their ability to support strong leadership, outstanding classroom teaching and appoint effective support for staff and governors.’

The LGA said Regional School Commissioners (RSC) - which were appointed by government to hold academies to account - lack local knowledge to properly help failing academies.

‘With RSCs strictly limited to overseeing academic standards, the early warning signs of failing such as safeguarding concerns or financial problems risk being overlooked,’ added Cllr Watts.

‘It is not acceptable that we have to wait for poor exam results, whistleblowing about financial impropriety or an Ofsted inspection to trigger intervention. With oversight by councils and strong links built with RSCs, mums and dads would be reassured that a council’s regular contact with their school will ensure nothing falls through the cracks.’

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