A SOUTH YORKSHIRE council could consider setting up its own academy chain in response to the Government’s drive to convert all state schools to academies, according to a new report.
The Barnsley Council document says the authority might want to consider establishing a multi-academy trust as it plans for the future.
The council’s cabinet member for people Coun Tim Cheetham told The Yorkshire Post that the council has not committed to doing this and that the report was “capturing the questions” facing all councils in light of the Government’s education policy.
Academies are schools which are run outside of local council control . They can be standalone schools or in multi-academy trusts.
Ministers originally said they wanted to convert all state schools into academies by 2022.
However Education Secretary Nicky Morgan subsequently ruled out forcing good and outstanding schools to convert to academy status against their will.
The Department for Education is still committed to more schools becoming academies.
It has said that schools could be converted to academies if it decides a council in that area is failing or no longer has the capacity to run its schools. .
It is unclear whether the DfE would allow councils to run academy trusts.
Barnsley Council has produced a report on how the authority might respond as more schools in the town convert to become academies.
It says: “In spite of the retrenchment on compulsory academisation, it is clear that the national policy intention is that the academy sector will grow and the maintained sector shrink over the next five years.”
It says that the council should expect more schools in Barnsley to become academies in the years ahead. The report said that councils should expect existing trusts in the town to expand, new trusts to be set up and chains which currently operate outside of Barnsley to move into the area.
It also suggests the council could set up its own trust to run its schools as academies.
The report says: “The council may also want to consider the option of establishing its own multi-academy trust, and the benefits and risks of that option in relation to the education outcomes, relationship with schools, viability and sustainability.
“Although this is an option being explored by other councils it is not yet clear under what circumstances or arrangements a council might establish a trust.”
The report says that if the council were to set up a trust or be involved in one it would need to be approved by the Government’s regional schools commissioner.
These commissioners are responsible for the conversion of council maintained schools into academies and for managing the performance of academies.
Earlier this year it was reported that Mrs Morgan was willing to make concessions over the Government’s academy plans and would allow the best performing councils to run their academy trusts.
However she did not confirm this in Education Questions in the House of Commons in April.
The Government’s White Paper Education Excellence Everywhere says that talented people currently working in local council education authorities could set up their own multi-academy trusts.