County leaders welcome Government climbdown over academies plan

CCN News 2016 | 06 May 2016

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County Councils and County Unitaries in England have welcomed an announcement by the Education Secretary that they will no longer force all schools in England to become academies.

Leaders from the 37 local authorities had called on the government to abandon the proposals, warning that the changes would not raise standards.

The CCN Chairman and Leader of Kent County Council, Cllr Paul Carter, said two weeks ago that the Government had been pursuing change with “undue haste”. He argued that a “one size fits all” approach would lead to local accountability being replaced by a “new regional quangocracy”.

CCN had suggested that reforms would threaten the viability of small rural schools and those with high needs.

Welcoming the change in policy, Cllr Carter said that the Government had clearly listened to the concerns of CCN.

He said: “The County Councils Network welcomes the decision not to compel all schools to become academies.

“The Secretary of State has rightly listened to the concerns of councils, teachers, governors and parents in taking this important decision. This decision is also vital for the preservation of rural schools which are at the heart of their local communities.

“It is only right that parents have maximum choice over the type of schools they want their children to attend.

“Counties have worked tirelessly with all of their schools, irrespective of classification, to support them in raising standards year on year.”

CCN did warn that Government must continue to listen to county leaders over the details of any reforms and proposed changes to schools funding.

In a Telegraph article earlier this week, Cllr Carter called on the Government to ensure that high-performing county councils continued to have central role in education. He said counties support 50% of the population in England and have a proud and strong track record in education, delivering an ever increasing number of good and outstanding schools of all shapes, sizes and types.

He stated that CCN was committed to working with Government to develop an “evolving set of proposals to improve the education system; one that ruthlessly roots out poor performance, but builds on high performance already within the sector”.