Do local authorities control their schools?
No. Local Authorities (LAs) do not “control” LA maintained schools. LA responsibility is limited to:
1 Back-room services (eg administration of payroll, legal requirements, brokering contracts for, say, IT services).
2 Co-ordinating admissions to all state schools in the area including free schools and academies.
3 Responsibility for children with special educational needs (SEN) and education welfare services.
4 The legal duty to manage the supply of school places.
LAs retain a small part of the budget of their maintained schools to pay for these services. Academies and free schools receive this small part directly but are still expected to purchase the administration and legal services they need.
LAs do not tell schools how to spend their budget.
LAs do not tell schools what and how to teach.
LAs have no say in who is recruited by a school (with the exception of the head). Teachers are employed by the LA but not recruited – who is appointed and what job s/he does is the responsibility of the school’s governing body. An LA adviser may be present at job interviews to give legal advice but has no say in who is offered the job.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the UK was among only four countries which gave schools a large amount of autonomy. The Academies Commission (2013) confirmed this: LA maintained schools can do most things an academy can do and the extra “freedoms” available to academies aren’t very great. The Academies Commission received evidence from some heads in academies linked to academy chains that they had less autonomy now they were in a chain than they had when maintained by their local authorities.
Many politicans, including Education Michael Gove, and large sections of the media push propaganda that non-academies are "controlled" by the iron hand of local bureaucracy and the only way to escape this intolerable burden is to claim academy "freedom". This is untrue.