Schools ‘better off’ run by town halls

Wigan Town Hall

Wigan Town Hall

A report claiming town halls are best placed to drive improvement in schools has been welcomed by a Wigan councillor.

Bosses at the Local Government Association said local authorities are better placed than regional schools commissioners (RSCs) to drive improvement.

RSCs, appointed by government, oversee schools and academies outside of the jurisdiction of local councils.

The LGA has argued that the RSC system lacks the capacity and capability to oversee increasing numbers of schools as the government pushes ahead with plans for all schools to take on academy status.

Coun Jo Platt, cabinet member for children, has previously criticised the push for academy status, highlighting the success of the borough’s schools as evidence that local authorities are fully equipped to deliver high standards.

She told the Evening Post: “Our focus as a council is to work closely with our schools to harness their strengths and give them the right support when they need it.

“This approach is proving very successful and popular with schools and continued rise in results for pupils is proof that local authority support is vital for this kind of achievement.

“The latest annual Ofsted report highlighted the great schools provision we have in the borough, which sees us sixth best nationally for the number of children in good or outstanding primary schools.

“We continue to collaborate closely with all our schools and our long-lasting relationship with them has helped us to provide constant improvement and we continue to raise the bar, offering a wide range of support and helping them achieve the best results, not just in Ofsted reports and exams, but across a broad range of curricular activities ensuring our children get the best start in life.”

Almost nine in 10 council-run primaries and secondaries in England are rated as good or outstanding - more than academies or free schools, according to the LGA report.

A similar proportion of so-called converter academies - those that have converted to academy status - (88.5 per cent) are rated as good or outstanding, along with 62 per cent of sponsored academies and 82 per cent of free schools.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Local councils have consistently proven themselves to be more effective at raising school standards than RSCs and this is no surprise.

“Each council is working with fewer schools, who they have good, long-standing relationships with, and they know what’s needed.

“Placing more and more power in the hands of few unelected civil servants, who parents cannot hold to account at the ballot box, is out of sync with the Government’s aims to devolve more decision-making and responsibility down to local areas and communities.

“We have yet to be convinced that RSCs have the track record or the capacity to take on responsibility for another 13,000 schools.

“We would urge the Government to re-consider its plans for full academisation and to focus on working with councils to ensure all our children get the excellent education they deserve.”

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