Norfolk councillor attacks forced academy idea

editorial image

Norfolk County Council should be compensated if plans to force all the county’s schools to become academies are implemented, one of its members has claimed.

A motion calling for the authority to signal its opposition to the government’s idea is set to be debated next week.

Ministers maintain the plan, which would require all schools to have converted to academy status by 2022, is meant to raise standards.

They also insist support for the measure among parents is growing.

But Labour’s Emma Corlett is calling for the authority to join others across the country in signalling its opposition to the measures, which are contained in the government’s current Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper.

Her motion claims the measures are projected to cost the council around £4,500 for each school that converts to academy status.

And she says the authority should be reimbursed for the costs it incurs as a result of the process.

She added: “No one system has a monopoly on delivering the best results.

“That is why a centrally imposed forced academisation programme is not the answer.

“Well-achieving schools should not be forced into a reorganisation that the school governing body does not believe is in the best interests of its pupils.”

The government maintains the measures are intended to free schools from the control of both local and national politicians.

And, despite education secretary Nicky Morgan being heckled at a union conference as she defended the idea, she has insisted she is confident the measure enjoys wider public support.

But Ms Corlett is also concerned that the proposals will make it more difficult for councils to fulfil their legal obligations relating to the inclusion of vulnerable youngsters in education and protecting the rights of parents.

She also believes the plans would “limit parental choice” of schools.

The motion is set to be debated at the council’s meeting on Monday, where members will elect a new chairman and vice-chairman for the coming year.