Eastbourne councillor calls to scrap academies plan

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An Eastbourne councillor has criticised government plans to force all schools to become academies, saying the plans will cost East Sussex £2.34 million.

The academies plan, which was put forward by the government at the last Budget, could see all English schools taken out of local authority control by 2022.

Alan Shuttleworth, a Liberal Democrat county councillor who represents Langney Ward, says the plans will take money away from other vital services without any clear benefit and is calling on all parties in East Sussex County Council to speak against the plans.

Cllr Shuttleworth said, “The estimated cost of £2.343 million to East Sussex alone to implement this programme will be at the expense of services to the vulnerable. We must call a halt to this ill-thought-out policy.

“Forcing schools to become academies, possibly against the wishes of parents, teachers, head teachers and governors will not only take away local accountability, but will do nothing to address the really serious issues of recruitment and retention, the shortage of head teachers, or the ongoing issues of school places provision and funding.”

State-funded academies are self-governing non-profit charitable trusts and may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors,

They also don’t have to follow the National Curriculum, but do have to ensure that their curriculum is broad and balanced.

The academies programme has proven to be controversial and has come under criticism from both MPs and teaching unions.

Last month Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell also expressed concerns over the plans due to the pace of the change and the uncertainty surrounding the role of parent governors at the converted schools.

Speaking last month Mrs Ansell said, “This forced change is not offering a freedom of choice for schools and, omitting parents from any governor role, would be taking an important function from the community. I want the minister to ensure that parents have an identifiable role in any new proposed system.

“I’m certainly not against academies – many are great – and I can see they have an important role to play in raising standards in certain circumstances, but I believe it’s absolutely for school communities to determine their own future, with parents too at the heart of decision making.

“I have real concerns parents are to be disenfranchised from the schools their children will be attending on the basis that they will not have the professional experience to run an academy.”

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