It was announced in an article in the Birmingham Post earlier this month that the education scrutiny committee at Birmingham City Council will begin an inquiry into academies. Councillor Brigid Jones confirmed the plans today in a television interview for BBC Midlands Today. (Also reported were Birmingham City Council’s plans to develop a co-operative model that will bring together schools and academies in the city, there is more on this in an earlier post here).
The inquiry will be launched in September and will be headed by Councillor Anita Ward. The Birmingham Post reports that the inquiry will not be about whether the Council is for or against academies, but rather how they should deal with them.
The draft Inquiry Outline cites the key question as;
In the light of schools in Birmingham becoming academies what role should the council play to support all schools and children. New strategic role for local authorities in local education provision
It can be expected that the inquiry will consider;
- the financial impact of academies for the council-tax payer
- the issue of schools converting with deficits
- issues around land transfers
- what happens if an academy fails or goes bust,
- exclusions and admissions
- the impact on children with special needs
The Birmingham Post report suggests that the inquiry will also investigate claims that academies practise covert forms of selection and that pupils with special needs are finding it difficult to get into academies.
Ask Parents First welcomes this inquiry as an opportunity for parents to express their concerns and influence future education policy in the city. APF parent Sarah Barton, in a telephone interview (1:17) on BBC Radio WM this morning, said;
I am really encouraged because it means that for the first time Birmingham City Council is actually going to be looking at the impact of schools becoming academies, what that means for those school communities, but also for the wider community of Birmingham as a whole, and I think that can only be a good thing.
Councillor Anita Ward has told APF that she is keen to hear the views of parents and that there will be opportunities for parents to give evidence in person to the inquiry and to make a written submission.
The inquiry is expected to be launched mid September. Ask Parents First is holding a meeting to discuss submissions to the inquiry on Monday 17th September. We will meet at 7.30pm in the foyer at The MAC. New members are very welcome.