Birmingham Scrutiny Inquiry Report into Academies and the Local Authority

APF Recommendations on consultation taken onboard

Back in the autumn of 2012 Ask Parents First submitted written and verbal evidence to the Birmingham Scrutiny Inquiry into academies and the local authority. The Council report has now been published. Click to view the Full Report, a Summary and an Executive Commentary by Albert Bore.

We are very pleased that our concerns have been reflected in the report and in particular our recommendations regarding consultation have been taken onboard by the committee – see section 4.8 of the recommendations, extract below;

4.8 Consultation on becoming an academy

As stated in the introduction to this report, Committee members recognise that existing academies are “here to stay”. It is also for the school governing bodies of proposed academies to decide the form of consultation most appropriate to their school community. However we take concerns raised by parents, teachers and trades union representatives about inadequate and at times skewed consultation for new academies seriously. Elected Members, in fulfilling our role as champions of pupils, parents and local communities, should expect that the City Council supports schools to consult fairly and effectively not least to protect vital community relationships. As a result, we have drawn directly on a number of recommendations made to us during our Inquiry by Ask Parents First to improve the experience of parents and children in Birmingham and highlight the importance of meaningful consultation on such significant decision-making.

R9: That the Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services:

i)                    Encourages governing bodies to notify the LA as soon as possible of any intention to consider academy conversion;

ii)                  Publicises that there is a clear expectation from the City Council that governing bodies considering academy conversion, whether voluntarily or under the instruction of the Department for Education, conduct open and democratic consultation while matters are still at a formative stage;

iii)                Publicises clear, factual, guidance for governing bodies on what constitutes open and democratic consultation in the form of a factsheet and

iv)                Publicises clear and balanced information for school governors, parents and carers on the implications of conversion to academy status including a list of what academies do and do not sign up to, and legal aspects of the conversion process in order that they can make more informed decisions about school choice.

The timescale for implementation of the recommendations on consultation is March 2013. We will be keeping an eye on the scrutiny committee progress reports.

3 thoughts on “Birmingham Scrutiny Inquiry Report into Academies and the Local Authority

  1. Is any of this applicable if it is the Headteacher and not the LA that wants the change?
    The senior management have been canvassed and are in favour.

  2. Yes of course – state schools exist to serve the local community not the senior management. In Birmingham it generally is the Head, the Governing Body or the DfE that advocates academy conversion, not the LA – although there are tales of some (rogue?) local authority officers doing the DfE’s dirty work and pressurising schools to convert alongside DfE representatives. Parents and pupils’ legal rights are altered when a school converts to academy and community assets are transferred into private ownership, albeit on a very long lease. Academy status is irreversible so generations of local children will be affected. Therefore this is a decision that should only be made with the agreement of the school community following open and democratic consultation. APF advocates a parent ballot, as used to be mandatory when schools were considering grant maintained status.

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