Councils call for powers to check academies

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COUNCILS are urging ministers to give them the powers to check on academies to prevent standards from slipping.

Around 2,300 schools in England now have academy status, including half of secondaries, according to the latest figures from the Department for Education (DfE).

Academies are run autonomously outside of local council control with funding direct from central government.

However the Local Government Association (LGA) said they were concerned that as the number of academies grows, it will become more difficult for central government to monitor them all - putting standards at risk.

They argue that councils should be put in charge of decisions on funding, improvement and intervention in areas where more than 50 per cent of secondaries have become academies.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has now opened up the scheme to allow all state schools apply for academy status.

A DfE spokeswoman said: “Academies allow heads and teachers on the front line to make their own decisions - rather than local bureaucrats. They are raising standards and improving their results at twice the national average rate.But there can be no excuse for any school letting pupils down. We monitor performance in academies and, where they don’t perform well enough, we will take action to make sure they do improve.”

Councillor Julie Abraham, portfolio holder for children, young people at East Riding Council, said: “The local authority would welcome the opportunity to hold academy schools to account for the outcomes they secure for the children and young people of the East Riding. The current legislation supports academies that wish to avoid scrutiny from the local authority.” However she said pupils in the East Riding were well served by its academies.