LGA backs MPs' call for council-run academy trusts

COUNCILS should be allowed to set up their own multi-academy trusts (MATs) in line with recommendations put forward by the Education Select Committee, the LGA has said.

The cross-party committee said there is currently a "high degree of uncertainty" over the performance and accountability of MATs and the Department for Education must do more to demonstrate that public money given to academies is being used effectively.

Furthermore, it is "far from clear" the department or the Education Funding Agency could cope with the additional pressure on their financial oversight capabilities that would be created by a major expansion of MATs.

The Government wants all schools to become academies and in 2015, then-Prime Minister David Cameron said that local authorities running schools should be "a thing of the past".

But committee chair Neil Carmichael said: "If the Government wants to pursue the goal of further academisation, it will need to work with local authorities and allow those councils with a track record of strong educational performance to use their expertise within their education department to create MATs."

Councils have called for the power to intervene in failing academies and Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA's Children & Young People Board, said The LGA has "long been concerned about the lack of local accountability, financial oversight and governance arrangements that exist for multi-academy trusts".

"With 91 per cent of maintained schools now rated as either Outstanding or Good by Ofsted, now is the time for Government to recognise councils as its education improvement partners," he added.

"Schools should be given the freedom to choose, in partnership with parents and councils, whichever structure is most appropriate for local children and if that means councils setting up their own MATs then they should be able to do so.

"If parents are concerned about an academy, at the moment all they can do is raise their concerns with a distant Regional Schools Commissioner or the remote Department for Education. Allowing local authorities to set up MATS would ensure the council and its directly elected councillors, who know their local schools and the communities they serve better than anyone else, will be able to step in and help.

"Councils also have vast experience in managing large budgets and have a reputation as being the most efficient, transparent and trusted part of the public sector. Running their own MATs would also allow councils to keep an eye on all local school spending."


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