Councils must champion children

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Local councils must be the “advocate and champion” of all pupils, regardless of the school they attend, a children’s services leader has said.

Andrew Webb suggested that council’s must now be “custodians” of the school system, even though under the government’s reforms, they have seen their role in education drastically reduced.

Rising numbers of schools are becoming academies –which are semi-independent state schools outside of council control funded directly from government – while new free schools are being set up under a similar premise.

In his first speech as president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), Mr Webb said: “For the avoidance of all doubt, I want to make it very clear that I believe we need to focus as rigorously on the needs of all children, in all population groups; to tailor our teaching to meet specific differences; and to expect all young people to want to meet stretching targets, particularly in the core subjects.”

He warned of the danger of becoming “slaves” to league tables, and said it was important not to marginalise subjects such as the creative arts.