ADCS response to the White Paper Educational Excellence...
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, Tuesday 10th May, publishes its response to the White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere.
The Association welcomes some aspects of the proposals in the White Paper for example, the focus on raising the profile and status of the teaching profession and the planned investment in school-led improvement and school to school support. However, ADCS opposes forced academisation and the wholesale transfer of significant powers relating to education to unelected civil servants. There is real value in parents being able to raise concerns regarding their child’s education with their local councils and councillors who have strong links to their local schools and communities.
ADCS members also oppose the proposal for the transfer of land from the local authority to the Secretary of State and then to an academy trust. This land is a community asset, held in trust by the local authority, for the benefit of local people.
The Association states that maintained schools in a good local authority should not be forced to become academies even if the majority of schools in the local area have already converted. ADCS also believes that local authorities must have a role in forming and shaping MATs and have oversight of de-coupling arrangements when schools wish to remove themselves from a MAT. This is essential to ensure both the educational and safeguarding needs of the most vulnerable children are met.
ADCS members have little confidence in the Education Funding Agency’s ability to provide effective and timely financial oversight to MATs or academy chains to ensure the proper use of public money. Currently councils ensure that schools spend public money fairly and without this there is no way to ensure the prudent oversight and appropriate spending of public money. The White Paper proposes that local authorities will be expected to facilitate the process of voluntary academisation - this represents a new burden for councils and will need to be fully funded.
Dave Hill, President of the ADCS, said: “We welcome the government’s recent decision not to compel all schools to become academies, however, this now raises questions around the feasibility of withdrawing of all school improvement funding from local authorities from 2017 onwards.
“The implications of the proposals in the White Paper on existing safeguarding arrangements remain at the forefront of our concerns. Itis important that government recognise the crucial link between social care and education - academy freedoms must not extend to safeguarding duties or responsibilities. Schools are the eyes and ears of children’s social care, they can help identify and alert us to issues earlier so we can help and support children, young people and their families to prevent crisis occurring. Councils should retain their ability to support and challenge all schools regardless of their status so that all children are able to thrive in their learning.”
The full response can be found at www.adcs.org.uk