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Fears growing over academy fast-track

COUNCILLORS have concerns over the speed at which academies are being “pushed through”.

COUNCILLORS have concerns over the speed at which academies are being “pushed through”.

They fear the controversial fast-track academies process may risk schools rushing to become an academy without proper consultation with the local community.

Parents may be left without a say over whether their children’s school elects to become independent due to changes in the application process.

Solihull Councillor Norman Davies, cabinet member for education said: “I think with the speed the academies are being pushed through, there’s a risk that real mistakes could be made.

“Simply calling it an academy doesn’t mean it will be inherently good, it depends on the staff, the governors, the parents and how much influence the sponsor has.

“They all need to be properly consulted before a decision is made.”

The new academy schools do not require consultation with the local authority or parents before applying although they may “consult whom they see fit” before an agreement is finally signed.

They will no longer be subject to the local authority so all services and grants go directly to the school. There are worries this can put schools into direct competition, opposed to Solihull schools’ tradition of working together.

Martin Hayes, Teaching and Learning Consultant for Solihull Council said: “Solihull has a great learning community. We must take every care to ensure it remains so after the academy statuses are granted.”

The fast-track schools are not required to have a sponsor but it is likely most will. Some people are concerned over the amount of influence the sponsor may have in the school.

Solihull Councillor Nick Stephens (Lab, Chelmley Wood) said: “There is a danger that the schools will be run more like businesses. The focus will be on making a profit, not on education.”

Arden School and Tudor Grange secondary schools and St. Patrick’s Junior and Infants will be given academy status later this year.

 

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