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No ultimatum to schools
2:21pm Thursday 19th July 2012 in Letters
AS we come towards the end of the school year, I would like to congratulate schools and pupils across Basildon for the successes they have achieved over the past year.
Notwithstanding these successes, local politicians and parents have been raising concerns with me about the overall standard of education in Basildon.
As a parent and local resident, as well as cabinet member for education, I want to ensure every child goes to a great school, and being a great school will include a successful grading from Ofsted.
You reported in “Failing primary schools” (July 12) that Essex issued an ultimatum to schools. That simply isn’t true.
The meeting mentioned was a first step in discussing my proposal that we look at the possibility of a multi-academy sponsor for a group of primary schools in Basildon.
Primary schools converting to an academy, either in their own right if Ofsted has graded them good or outstanding, or with the help of an external sponsor, is still a relatively new development.
The purpose of an external sponsor is to bring added momentum to the school’s work in raising standards and achieving a school’s ambitions.
Your article referred to schools being “pushed” to become academies.
Let me be clear – schools have autonomy and are managed and led by governing bodies and they have the responsibility and authority to consider any decision about converting to an academy.
Only where standards fall to unacceptably low standards do we as the local authority for education have the right, and responsibility, to consider stepping in and being part of that decision making.
Our aim is to work with all schools, academies and maintained schools, outstanding or not, on their improvement journeys.
COUNCILLOR STEPHEN CASTLE
Cabinet Member for Education, Lifelong Learning and the 2012 Games
Essex County Council