Peterborough City Council ‘not responsible’ for schools becoming academies

I write in response to the letter from David Head of West Town in the 4th July edition of the newspaper about the academisation of schools.

Saturday, 13th July 2019, 8:00 am
Education news

I read the letter with interest and felt compelled to respond to address inaccuracies made about the city council’s involvement in the process of a school becoming an academy.

The letter suggests that the council is responsible for schools becoming academies - this is certainly not the case. Academies are schools whose governing bodies have made the decision to join an academy trust , or the Department for Education has intervened and requires the school to join an academy trust due to poor performance.

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The city council does not get involved in the process of applying for academy status, nor does it have the power to decide whether a school becomes an academy or not.

There is a government drive for all schools to become academies, and it is the government that decides upon the applications it receives from governing bodies.

So to suggest that we are ‘off-loading’ or ‘handing over’ our schools is simply untrue.

It’s fair to say that we do not have as much control of academies, however, we still hold statutory duties, such as pupil attendance, proper building standards and ensuring the national curriculum is being taught. In addition we act as advocates for pupils and families and do challenge where we believe they are not being supported.

The relationship we have with our academies in Peterborough is very good and this is because we have invested time and effort into building and maintaining these. It is not them and us, we work together with a goal to improve the city.

We continue to work proactively with our maintained schools, which are still under full local authority control, to keep them together as a group and to support them to improve.

Throughout the past year the city council has been working on its Shared and Integrated Education Services Programme to help drive standards across all schools, by working together and sharing best practice from the city and further afield.

We have achieved many changes throughout the past year, including focused work with high performance schools in Newham to improve phonics and our School Readiness programme which prepares children for school, the effects of which are now beginning to have an impact on pupils.

We look forward to sharing the successes of our Change Programme with our Regional Schools Commissioner who we have invited to the Children and Education Scrutiny Committee next Thursday (18 July).

Councillor Lynne Ayres

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, Skills and University