LB Bromley - all schools to become academies soon?

Rosemary Mann's picture
 5
I have heard what could be a rumour that LB Bromley is actively pursuing a plan to 'offload' all of its schools in the next few years and force them to become academies so effectively their responsibility for their local authority estate will be gone after this time although I am not sure whether that means they would  have no education responsibilities. I have heard this from a fairly reliable source but can't currently contact them to substantiate.

Does anyone have any more information?
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Rosemary Mann's picture
Sun, 08/07/2012 - 19:02

another question from me; if all schools become academies, what is the responsibility of local authorities for education? If none, then with whom will it lie? If we suddenly have a shortage and need for bulge classes, then how is that to be provided if there are few, if any schools remaining within the relevant local authority family. Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere, its just that I cant find it.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 09/07/2012 - 09:51

Hi rosalyn - it's now law that all new schools must be either academies or free schools so if a local authority finds it needs a new school to fulfil a demand for school places then it has to (a) tout around for an academy chain to establish an academy or (b) somehow persuade another group (parents, religious group and so on) to propose a free school.

Stephen Twigg, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, has pointed out the anomaly in commissioning of school places.

“Local authorities have responsibility for planning local school places, but do not have financial powers to make this happen."

http://www.lgcplus.com/briefings/joint-working/education/labour-proposes...

Local authorities which were unable to find a backer for a new school would have no option but to expand existing ones perhaps with temporary classrooms.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 09/07/2012 - 10:30

There is a precedent for a council offloading its schools. Lincolnshire Council voted to recommend that all Lincolnshire schools, even the tiny village ones, should become academies, preferably with CfBT. CfBT said they would be reluctant to take over the tiny schools unless they could build up a “portfolio” of larger ones.

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/09/lincolnshire-advises-all-i...

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 09/07/2012 - 10:35

Peterborough City Council needed a new secondary school so asked academy chains to bid to sponsor a new secondary school in March 2011. The known contenders were: Barnfield Federation (recently accused by outgoing head of Barnfield Moorlands School of interfering too much; Peter Birkett of Barnfield Federation has said he wants to run a further education college for profit), The Brooke Weston Partnership, Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, Internationella Engelska Skolan (a Swedish for-profit organisation) and The Ormiston Trust. Greenwood Dale Foundation was awarded the contract.

http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/news/latest_news/2011/march/five_organisa... (March 2011)

Even though Peterborough City Council is not responsible for academies, the Council has agreed to fund the rebuilding of Nene Park Academy which is sponsored by Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust.

http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/children_and_families/schools/secondary_s...

The Council is also funding the rebuilding of Stanground College, judged to be inadequate in January 2012 while in the process of academy conversion. It is now sponsored by Greenwood Dale Foundation.

http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/children_and_families/schools/secondary_s...

http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/education/ofsted-stanground-coll...

The Peterborough situation raises interesting questions:

1 How much, if anything, should councils be expected to pay for rebuilding or refurbishment of academies for which they are no longer responsible?
2 Is it reasonable to ask local taxpayers to fund schools which voluntarily took themselves out of local authority control?
3 Surely any capital expenditure for academies should come from the Government?

Sarah's picture
Mon, 09/07/2012 - 10:48

Local authorities still have a statutory duty to ensure adequate numbers of school places for the children in their area. Basic need capital funding comes to them from the Education Funding Agency (DfE) for all types of schools not just those they maintain - so in principle they have the money for new Academy places and it isn't funded from Council Tax. They do not have the capital for other capital work including improvements to the suitability of accommodation to deliver the curriculum. There is an ongoing debate on the role of the local authority. The DfE commissioned action research for the Ministerial Advisory Group, sponsored by the Local Government Association, on just this subject which was published last week. There is also a report by the RSA on 'the missing middle' looking at the need for someone to take on a role between the DfE and schools.

Most commentators agree that the Academies and Free Schools policy makes the planning of pupil places more complex but still vitally important.

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