Local authorities as 'commissioners'

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by Sarah
The White Paper talks about local authorities eventually becoming commissioners of school places with the provider role clearly being filled by Academies/Free Schools.

If the government is serious about the future role of the local authority, the Free School policy really makes no sense.

Surely, if the local authority is to be responsible for strategic planning and ensuring the provision of adequate school places across the area it serves then surely it should be responsible for deciding where and what sort of school is needed - based of course on full consultation with local stakeholders including parents. It is easy to envisage how this might work, with the LA creating a 'brief' for a new school or new school places and then providers bidding or competing to provide them. But the Free School policy is the opposite of this - it is the 'build them and they will come' model. It is not based based on a strategic assessment of need, it's based on the provider taking decisions about the nature and location of the service.
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