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Free Schools and Academies - carried

September 20, 2010 12:20 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Conference is concerned by the establishment of academies and free schools under coalition government policy.

Conference re-asserts its commitment to the key principles agreed at the spring 2009 conference in Harrogate in policy paper 89, Equity and Excellence, and specifically that:

i) Local Authorities should retain strategic oversight of the provision of school places funded by the use of public money.

ii) Local Authorities should continue to exercise their arms-length support for all state schools funded wholly or partially with public funds with particular emphasis on their work with disadvantaged pupils.

Conference calls on government to ensure that schools remaining within the Local Authority

family are not financially penalised by the creation of academies and specifically:

a) That academies should be required to pay the full cost including administrative overheads for

any services they buy back from the Local Authority.

b) That academies should have only observer status on the Schools Forum as they have placed themselves outside the democratic system for the funding of education.

In relation to 'free schools', conference calls on all Liberal Democrats to urge people not to take up this option because it risks:

1. Creating surplus places which is prejudicial to the efficient use of resources in an age of

austerity.

2. Increasing social divisiveness and inequity into a system which is already unfair because

of the multiple tiers and types of schools created by successive Conservative and Labour

governments and thus abandoning our key goal of a high quality education system for all

learners.

3. Depressing educational outcomes for pupils in general.

4. Increasing the existing complexity of school admissions and exclusions.

5. Putting at risk advances made in making appropriate provision for children with special

needs.

6. Putting in jeopardy the programme of improving school buildings.

7. Wasting precious resources, both human and material, at a time when all efforts should be focused on improving educational outcomes by enabling effective teaching and learning to take place in good local schools accessible to all.

Applicability: England only.