Labour conference: No new academies, Angela Rayner to pledge

The creation of new academy and free schools in England would be scrapped by a future Labour government, the shadow education secretary is to announce.

Angela Rayner will tell the party conference in Liverpool the current system is “simply not fit for purpose”.

The two thirds of secondary schools and fifth of primaries already out of local authority control will not be affected.

But Labour says powers over school admissions and building new schools should be returned to councils.

There are about 3,400 secondary schools and 16,700 primary schools in England.

Those that are academies are independent, state-funded schools, which receive their funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority. Free schools are academies set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, trusts, religious and voluntary groups.

The number of academies and free schools grew dramatically under the coalition government, and has continued under the present Conservative government.

Ministers have argued they help drive up standards through greater innovation and competition in the system.

Labour’s proposals go further than last year’s manifesto which only proposed ending new free schools.

Under Labour’s plans, responsibility for decision making and budgets could eventually be transferred to a governing body of elected parents, teachers, school staff, and community representatives.

‘Zombie academies’

In her speech, Ms Rayner will contend there is a lack of evidence that schools converted to academies have improved results.

“The Tories have thrown money at an academy and free school programme that is not improving outcomes for pupils, even while individual schools have their budgets cut year after year,” she will say.

Ms Rayner is expected to say a future Labour government would enforce national pay rules to prevent executives at the chains running free schools paying themselves “fat cat salaries”.

The shadow education secretary will also raise concerns about a rise in the number of so-called zombie academies, saying 124 schools in July were in “limbo”, waiting to be transferred to another trust because the current management either withdrew or had been stripped of control.

Labour says failing academy schools would be allowed to return to local authority control and it would support new co-operative schools set up by parents and staff.

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BBC News – UK Politics

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