Council protests academy plans

Council leader Stephen Parnaby OBE said multi academy trusts might not look favourably on rural schools throughout the East Riding

Council leader Stephen Parnaby OBE said multi academy trusts might not look favourably on rural schools throughout the East Riding

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The Tory-run East Riding Council has opposed government plans to force all schools to become academies in less than four years time.

In a letter to Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, the council said while it supported the Government’s ambition to raise standards, it believes that converting all schools to academies would pose “a huge financial burden on the education sector”.

The letter was written by leader of the council Cllr Stephen Parnaby OBE, Cllr Julie Abraham, portfolio holder for children, young people and education and Cllr Kerri Harold, chairman of the children and young people overview and scrutiny committee.

It reads: “Fewer than 10 per cent of our schools [in the East Riding] are academies and that has been their choice. We have widely supported those schools when they have chosen to become academies.

“However our schools and academies are on a continuing journey of school improvement and we believe that the requirement to academise and ultimately secure themselves within a mutually suitable Multi Academy Trust will be a huge distraction from the task in hand and also a huge financial burden on the education sector as a whole."

It comes after The Guardian reported in March that the Government planned to convert every school in England to an academy by 2020.

Last Summer, David Cameron said: “Those schools that are sponsored by academies, you can see the improvement in their results since they were taken over and given extra independence and that extra assistance.

“My vision for our schooling system should be that every school should aspire to have that independence, for the head to be captain of the ship, to be able to make greater determination about the future of that school.”

But due to red tape surrounding admissions processes at some of the East Riding’s smaller, more rural schools, the council is worried that a Multi Academy Trust would not find these desirable.

The authority’s letter adds: “It is our view that academisation and Multi Academy Trusts is very a very urban solution to bring about improvement in the nation’s schools. We would be pleased to welcome yourself or ministerial colleagues to the East Riding to see our geographical circumstances.”