Council leaders have warned the time and resources being spent on converting schools into academies is undermining efforts to provide enough school places for children during the Covid-19 crisis.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on the Government to suspend academy conversions to allow councils to focus on supporting schools and nurseries to stay open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
It said 594 academy conversions are in the pipeline, involving the transfer of staff, assets, including land and property, and financial agreements.
The LGA also said councils have to pick up the bill if a school has a deficit when it converts.
Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: ‘Council staff are working flat out at reduced capacity, and taking council teams away from their primary duty of care to see through applications for academy conversions is clearly not in the interest of either councils or schools during this unprecedented time.
’We want to work with the Government to ensure that schools are given the support they need over the immediate term, and this includes urgently placing a temporary pause on academy conversions during this time.’