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council’s education roles may be ‘re-vamped’

15 September 2011

More than 1,300 schools are now academies, and the figure is set to rise dramatically over the coming months. This has led to a dramatic reduction in many councils’ budgets (plus an expected claw-back of £1 billion) and a struggle to provide services to schools still under their control. There have been many discussions around how the relationship between academies and councils will work in the future. Last week Nick Clegg reportedly stated that councils should be responsible for standards at schools not under their direct control, make decisions about who runs them and hold providers ‘more sharply to account’.

Mr Clegg’s comments appear to be in complete antithesis to the whole policy and rationale behind the academy programme – to free schools from local authority control. The poor working relationship between some schools and their councils has undoubtedly been a factor in decisions to convert to academy status, with the promise of freedom, independence and autonomy being an attractive offer.

It remains to be seen whether we will see a move towards involvement of council in academy affairs (e.g. being able to trigger inspections if they believe there are problems), or whether councils’ roles will be limited to the provision of services.

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