Academy plan would silence voices on schools – Steve’s latest Croydon Advertiser column
Parents and teachers across Croydon are outraged at the Government’s plans to scrap local accountability of every school in the country. The Tories have announced plans to force schools to become academies, even where parents completely oppose it.
Instead of being rooted in local communities, academies are part of privately run companies that are often remote and unaccountable. Voices will be silenced by removing parent governors from governing bodies. The removal of the council’s power to build new schools has already left Croydon with the biggest shortage of places in the country, now that’s set to get even worse as the Government snatches away what little remains of local accountability.
It’s simply not possible for civil servants in Whitehall to oversee the country’s 24,000 schools without any local involvement, yet astonishingly this is what the Government is proposing. That will lead to more scandals like those in Birmingham where a lack of local oversight meant early warning signs were missed until problems had grown into full-blown crises.
Schools should be accountable to local parents and local communities where children are growing up, not to Whitehall civil servants and remote private companies. The Government must listen to parents now.
Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.
Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.