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Top non-academies 'can help struggling schools'

02/07/2015 Kelly
High-performing maintained schools in England should be able to help struggling schools to improve their standards.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), allowing the best educational establishments to sponsor schools before they achieve academy status would make a big difference.

More than 80 per cent of council-maintained schools are currently rated as 'good' or 'outstanding' by Ofsted, and so the LGA believes the government is slowing down progress due to the presence of bureaucratic barriers.

The body thinks the solution to the current education problems is simple - let high-performing schools have a direct role in raising education standards, which could include taking on the running of failing academies.

"Councils are education improvement partners and not a barrier to change," said councillor David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board.

"For parents, who are far more concerned with the quality of their child's education in the classroom than the legal status of the school, it is the council that they still turn to for advice and support."

There is a solid track record of councils improving education standards, while a study by NFER has found that pupils who go to maintained schools achieved the same standard of GCSE results as academy pupils in 2014.

Moreover, council-maintained centres are significantly outperforming academy chains when it comes to the 'added value' measure.

Cllr Simmonds thinks councils are best placed to oversee "school effectiveness", while they are more than capable of stepping in and taking immediate action where required.

"With oversight by councils and strong links built with Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs), mums and dads would be reassured that a council's regular contact with their school will ensure nothing falls through the cracks," he added.

There were eight RSCs appointed in September of last year and their remit is to hold academies to account. However, the LGA argues they do not have the necessary local knowledge to deal with all of the problems they encounter.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801793242-ADNFCR
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