Labour conference: no new academies says Rayner 

An end to the creation of new free schools and academies was among the pledges made by Labour at their annual party conference in Liverpool. Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, told the conference Labour planned to once again allow local authorities to build new schools. Under the plans councils would not only be able to open new schools, but would also regain full control over school admissions. At present there are only limited circumstances in which local authorities can open new schools, and although they have responsibility for planning school places, they cannot compel academies or free schools to expand to meet demand.

Ms Rayner also told delegates that schools judged to be ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted would no longer be compelled to become academies. The current government policy, which has become known as ‘forced academisation’ has proved controversial, with some ‘failing’ schools ultimately having to close when they were unable to find a sponsor to enable them to convert to academy status. Under Labour’s plans, where schools that are already academies are found to be inadequate, they would be able to be taken back under local authority control. However Labour has no immediate plans to abolish or change the status of the bulk of existing academies and free schools.

In her speech Ms Rayner argued that Labour’s policies would ‘not only reverse the cuts but tackle the inefficiency of the Tories’ school system, and take power from corporations and hand it to communities’. Responding to the shadow education secretary’s speech Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said ‘An enhanced role for local authorities would help the Government to ensure that it has the levers it needs to ensure that all children and young people receive the high quality education to which they are entitled.’

Greensheets will have news from the Conservative party conference in our next edition.

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