Councils need powers to order academies to take excluded pupils, says LGA

COUNCILS should have the power to order academies to take "hard to place" students, including those excluded from other schools, the LGA has said.

At present, councils can only direct maintained schools to admit excluded pupils. If, however, a council considers a local academy as the most suitable option, it has to apply to the Education Funding Agency, which makes the final decision.

Government statistics show nine out of 10 hard to place children are refused entry to an academy, with only 15 out of 121 students put forward to the EFA accepted, and the LGA said councils are becoming increasingly concerned that the EFA is ignoring their advice.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the association's Children & Young People Board, said: "By ignoring local council advice the EFA is allowing academies to effectively choose the children they want to admit.

"There are far stronger safeguards in place to ensure maintained schools do not cherry-pick their pupils and the same measures should be in place for all academies.

"Decisions about individual children should be made in the best interest of each child, not to protect favoured schools. These decisions are best made locally by parents and councils who know each child best.

"It is now vital that councils are urgently given the powers to take these decisions locally, based on their local knowledge of the children, families and schools involved."