Hackney leaders argue against forced academisation of schools

Hackney council leaders have criticised government plans to replace council-run schools with academies

Hackney council leaders have criticised government plans to replace council-run schools with academies - Credit: PA

Hackney leaders have condemned the government's "pursuit of a forced academisation agenda for schools", arguing that councils should have a central role in education. 

Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, said the council stands "firmly" against schools being made into academies.

He described the independent state schools, that are directly funded by the Department for Education (DfE), as being "overseen by independent sponsors or trusts and accountable only to the government. 

"We know from our own engagement that residents are against this too," the mayor said. 

The council contends that successive government policies are resulting in the removal of "more and more" schools from local authority oversight.

Hackney's mayor says such oversight is vital for a successful education system. 

An annual Department for Education report (2021) for the year ending August 2020 stated that the number of pupils educated at academies increased that year by 2.9 per cent, from 4.1 million to 4.2 million. 

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The mayor added: "[The council] holds a deep connection with the diverse Hackney communities we serve. We are held to account by them and reflect their needs and asks, which feeds into how we lead and influence the local education system."

Deputy mayor and portfolio holder for education, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, has also raised concerns about councils being "side-lined" leading to safeguarding practices becoming weakened.

In response a Department for Education spokesperson said: “The government’s vision is for every school to be part of a family of schools in a strong multi-academy trust, because they deliver clear benefits for teaching and pupil outcomes, and can provide the support schools may need to improve."

They note that 2019 analysis of Ofsted inspection outcomes found more than seven out of 10 sponsored academies were rated good or outstanding compared to around one in 10 of the local authority schools they replaced. 

“We expect multi-academy trusts to work in partnership with – not replace – their local authority children’s services to deliver the best outcomes for all children," the spokesperson added.