York Lib Dems oppose academy school plans

York Liberal Democrats have written to the Government opposing plans to force all schools to become academies.

In Westfield, the Hob Moor school recently announced plans to become an Academy amidst  confusion about how its PFI debts would be paid.

Hob Moor School

Hob Moor School

Residents also questioned how parents and the local community would be able to influence the polices of what is a major neighbourhood asset sited in a relatively poor area.

Specialist services for those with Special Educational Needs are provided on the campus which is also a base for Surestart services.

 The Conservative Government has said that all schools will be expected to become, or be in the process of becoming, academies by 2020, with all converted by 2022.

In a letter to the Education Secretary, local Lib Dems say they are opposed to “forced academisation” and raise concerns about the ending of the current accountability of schools to elected local councils.

The letter raises concerns about whether councils such as York will be able to fulfil their remaining education duties under the new system, such as school place planning and protecting vulnerable pupils including those with Special Education Needs. It also criticises the proposal to end the role of parent governors and says the Government has revealed no plans to help councils with the costs that they will face in the conversion of schools.

Cllr Ashley Mason, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, Children and Young People, commented:

 Liberal Democrats oppose plans by the Conservative Government to force local schools to become academies. Under the proposals schools in York will have to convert to an academy, regardless of what parents want to happen or how well the school is performing. We believe the choice should always rest with the school after consultation with parents.

“The  attack on the role of local councils in education is short-sighted as Ofsted rates 82% of council-maintained schools across the country as good or outstanding. In York, the council has built a strong partnership with local schools and exam results in the city are consistently higher than national and regional averages. There is no evidence that academies will perform better or that forced conversion is the best thing for local schools.

“By stripping away the work of local councils the Government is also ending local accountability. Parents will be left to take up any concerns not with the council but with remote Regional Schools Commissioners. Meanwhile, the attempts to remove parent governors seems a particularly spiteful move and ignores the hours of voluntary work that parents put into this role.”

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