Mayor of Newham urges the Public Accounts Committee to review Government's academy policy to ensure accountability and right to return to local authority

5 June 2018 in Education and Mayor
In a letter to the Public Accounts Committee Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz raised her concerns about schools converting to academy status.
​She said: “I have significant concerns about the Government’s policy of academisation and the lack of accountability this type of school structure creates for local communities.

“As your committee has highlighted in its previous report on ‘academy school finances’, this is of particular concern in relation to financial accountability. Academies currently receive their funding direct from the government rather than via local authorities, which means there is less scope for local democratic scrutiny and monitoring.

“The overall cost of the conversion process, with an estimated £745 million being spent on  conversions since 2010-11, is also a source of concern given the paucity of evidence suggesting that changing a school structure in itself has a direct impact on educational attainment or delivers for pupils and taxpayers.

“There are also significant accountability issues created by the process of academy conversion. It is my view that significant changes to school governance should not be undertaken without a mandate from the wider school community, including parents and teaching staff.

“I am also concerned that the Government’s policy of enforced academisation for failing schools actively forces schools to become academies rather than gives them the option of working with the local authority to make improvements.  Similarly, the policy of a 'one way' route to academy conversion leaves schools with no option to return to the local authority, if they decide that the academy structure is not in the best interest of the school and their pupils. This policy is incredibly restrictive of schools’ freedom and removes basic accountability from the community. The fixation by Government on school structure, also removes the focus of Government policy from where it should be on  educational attainment and actively supporting schools.

“The present academisation policy is the cause of considerable concern  among teachers, parents and the wider community in Newham and across the country and given its importance I would strongly encourage the Public Accounts Committee to hold a recall session on the academy conversion process, following the publication of your report.”