29 Mar Evolving role of councils in education
More than a year has now passed since the Importance of Teaching white paper’s provisions were enshrined in the Education Act 2011. The ISOS partnership has now released its interim report looking at how Local Authorities have been approaching the three key areas of their role:
- Ensuring a sufficient supply of school places
- Tackling under-performance in schools and ensuring high standards
- Supporting vulnerable children
The report identifies the key issues facing councils and schools in 9 council areas as increasing numbers of schools become academies and Councils have to adapt to greater school autonomy.
The research found that the growth in academies over the last 18 months had been very rapid but uneven and the changes in educational funding had led to authorities having to restructure services which inevitably led to staff redundancies.
There has been a clear commitment to enabling schools to lead their own improvement, and Authorities have used the change agenda to exercise their local leadership role rather than resisting change and risk becoming irrelevant.
In terms of academy conversion, LA’s have seen it as their duty to present the evidence and arguments objectively and support schools to fulfil whichever path they choose. However, more support appears to have been given to the Primary sector as supposed to the Secondary who were felt to have greater capacity and experience to thrive alone or in partnership with other schools or academies.
There appears to be a worry that Local Authority services may not be maintained if Academies become prevalent and then schools may feel they might get left behind if they do not convert.
The report also looks at how the powers of academies to expand, and for new schools to enter the market, may affect the rate of school failure and closures in the long term, and the need to manage unsuccessful schools decisively.
The next phase of the research involves identifying the key areas where LA’s require support and creating Action Learning sets to help problem solve. The final report is due at the end of May 2012.
LGA/DofE Action research interim report can be found here: