Conservative Councillor voices academy fears

Janet Downs's picture
The Deputy Leader of Rutland County Council, Councillor Terry King, is worried about secondary school admissions now that all three of the County’s secondary schools will be academies by September. He said, “Academy status means the schools are their own masters and they don’t have to recognise a catchment area. This is a worry and we will have a role to play in ensuring there are sufficient places for Rutland youngsters.”

Academies’ funding agreements describe their admissions criteria and they are expected to participate in “local fair access protocols”. However, as academies are outside local authority (LA) control, Councillor King and his fellow councillors will have no influence on these schools. If a parent feels a child has been denied a place then the parent can’t complain to the LA. The parent has to appeal to an independent appeals panel set up by the academy itself. If the parent is still dissatisfied then s/he will have to appeal directly to the Secretary of State because only he has the power to force an academy to admit a pupil.

One would expect, therefore, that the Department of Education (DfE) would have set up procedures to deal with complaints (all complaints, not just those concerning admissions) about academies. However, it doesn’t appear to have done so. Perhaps it thinks parents won’t complain. I think the DfE will be mistaken. As the number of academies is set to rise, then the DfE is going to have to have a large section devoted to complaints. Or it could just make it so difficult for parents to find out how to complain that they won’t be able to do so.
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