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Councils improve more schools than academy chains

New analysis reveals more failing schools are turned around by councils than academy chains, local government leaders reveal today.

The Local Government Association has analysed more than 300 council-maintained schools that were judged inadequate in 2013. It found that 115 (75 per cent) of the 152 schools that remained under council control had been turned around to become a good or outstanding school by December 2017.

This compares with 92 (59 per cent) of the 155 schools which converted to a sponsor-led academy.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says its new findings provide “compelling” evidence that councils should be allowed to intervene and turn around struggling schools again.

Under current rules they are barred from helping, even in cases where a struggling school cannot find an academy sponsor.

Maintained schools with inadequate Ofsted judgements, which are considered to be failing, now have to become sponsor-led academies. These are schools taken over by an academy chain, or multi-academy trust (MAT) identified by the Department for Education.

In a new LGA report – “Improving Schools” – published at its annual conference in Birmingham today, council leaders argue they should be allowed to intervene and improve all types of school found to be inadequate – regardless of whether it is a maintained school or academy.

This is a view backed by the Commons Education Select Committee, which recommended using the expertise of local authorities in school improvement.

Government should also allow councils to create their own multi-academy trusts (MATs) to support schools, and let maintained schools rated as good or outstanding sponsor failing academies without having to become academies themselves.

Cllr Roy Perry, Vice Chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“These findings clearly demonstrate the excellent track record councils have in turning around failing schools and the compelling need for councils to be recognised as effective education improvement partners, ready and able to support schools of all types.

“Across the country, hundreds of schools, often in disadvantaged areas, are already seeing significant improvements thanks to the intervention of councils to deliver and maintain strong leadership, outstanding classroom teaching and appoint effective support staff and governors.

“Councils are responsible for making sure that every child gets a good education, so should not be stopped from improving struggling schools, whether a maintained school or an academy.

“It is not fair on children and parents to be denied the chance of a better education because their local council – with expertise in school improvement – is barred from helping.”

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