Academisation and Sustainable Communities Act

Paul Cotterill's picture
Just wanted to float an idea in a safeish space before deciding whether it's worth investing serious time in writing up.

Given the stated intention by the Prime Minister (conference speech) that local authority 'run' schools should be a thing of the past by 2020, building on the current process of academisation, is it worth one or a consortium of local authorities invoking their legal right under the Sustainable Communities Act (2007) (regs amended 2012), which allow them to put forward for ministerial consideration adjustments to primary legislation which are in the interests of a) devolution of government to more local level; and b) are demonstrably in the interests of community well-being.

Such an application would under the Act would seek a revision to the Academies Act 2010 to allow local authorities to become/set up (arms length) academy chains - and there are of course a number of variants on this.

The SCA 2007 (2012) is a little complicated to go through in detail here (I've used it in other walks of life), but would this in principle be a good way of raising quasi-legal challenge to any further legislation academising all of us, not least because the 'review' process (not called that) is itself a legal requirement in which the Local Government Association gets to 'select' refused applications and seek to come to an 'understanding' with DCLG about?
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Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 30/10/2015 - 14:47

This is an interesting idea worth taking further.

Patrick Hadley's picture
Sun, 01/11/2015 - 16:46

I had not realised that Cameron had actually made it clear in his conference speech that :

" my next ambition is this. 500 new Free Schools. Every school an academy…and yes – Local Authorities running schools a thing of the past."

I had long assumed that the Conservatives wanted to privatise all our taxpayer-funded schools, but now we know that this is explicitly Tory policy. I hope that Labour will finally come to the defence of state education.

agov's picture
Mon, 02/11/2015 - 09:44

There's a bit of deception going on as new schools (almost always) had to be academies unless they were Free schools (although Free schools are legally academies). They have now decided that (almost all) new schools will be called Free schools. Given a rising school population and the need for more schools they should easily be able to achieve 500 new Free schools.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 03/11/2015 - 16:43

agov and Patrick - the DfE has made it clear that any academy which wants to expand could consider setting up a free school. No doubt the dosh would be forthcoming.

David Barry's picture
Fri, 06/11/2015 - 15:28

Agov -

I do agree with you that the 500 figure for Free Schools, given that all new schools have to be Free Schools, ought really to be achievable, given projected demand.

However I think you have not quite caught the point about "every school being an Academy". In the context of the speech it is clear that David Cameron means that all EXISTING schools will be an Academy by 2020. From which it follows that Local Education Authorities will cease to exist in their current form, although whether all the statutory duties LA's have towards schools will also vanish is not so clear.

The first step in this process will be the new Education Bill, which will allow an Academy order to be made, in practice, I suspect, regarding any school. (For that is what I think the discussion of "coasting is really about.) On top of that, once enough schools in an LEA area are Academies the continued viability of the LEA comes in to question.

Its a tight enough timetable, but its not impossible that all existing schools will have been made Academies by order, or feel no alternative but to "choose" to opt for Academy status by 2020.

agov's picture
Sat, 07/11/2015 - 13:14

I don't doubt the malign intent but conference speeches are not the same thing as policy. The Education Bill gives the SoS powers to issue warning notices to 'coasting' schools but they would need to hugely change the proposed definition of 'coasting' for all non-academies to be targeted. Might happen, but doesn't seem to be current declared policy.

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