Responding to the Government statement that the Education for All Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, will not be introduced in Parliament, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“We are pleased that the Secretary of State is acting on the strong concerns from councils about the Government’s planned education reforms. Today’s announcement is the right decision and shows the Government has been listening to our concerns, which have been echoed by MPs, teachers and parents.
“Councils have been clear from the outset that the proposals within the Bill focussed too heavily on structures, when our shared ambition is on improving education for all children. In particular, both the forced academisation of schools in areas considered to be ‘unviable’, and the removal of the council role in school improvement, went against evidence that council-maintained schools perform more highly than academies and free schools in Ofsted inspections, and that conversion to academies did not in itself lead to better results.
“In our submission to the Treasury ahead of the Autumn Statement, we have called on the Government to take advantage of councils’ unique position in the community and give them a clear and strategic role in overseeing local schools systems, accompanied by appropriate resources, powers and flexibilities, so that they can support local school improvement and hold schools to account for education standards.
“We also urge government to reverse plans to cut £600 million from the Education Services Grant awarded to councils and academies next year.
“This funding is vital to help ensure that children are getting the education they deserve, from helping to provide speech therapy and physiotherapy, to carrying out DBS checks on staff and providing music services in schools. It also helps to plan for the new school places that are urgently needed, ensuring that every child has a place at a good school near their home.
“The LGA remains keen to work with the Department for Education to ensure that all partners are working together to deliver the excellent education that ensure every child gets the very best from their years at school.”