KCC looks at plans for cre­at­ing acad­emy trust

Multi-school op­tion could be first of its kind in the coun­try

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Youngster Creates Tourism Pamphlet - By Paul Fran­cis

Kent County Coun­cil is weigh­ing up plans to bring to­gether some of its schools to create a multi-acad­emy trust in what could be the first of its kind in the coun­try.

Coun­cil leader Paul Carter said the author­ity was ex­plor­ing the op­tion but had not yet for­malised any plan or iden­ti­fied which schools.

The gov­ern­ment’s acad­emy pro­gramme has been cen­tred on en­cour­ag­ing schools to be­come acad­e­mies and in so do­ing de­tach them­selves from coun­cil con­trol.

KCC’s plan would rep­re­sent a pos­si­ble chal­lenge to that prin­ci­ple but the author­ity be­lieves that it could be sup­ported.

Cllr Carter said: “We have had meet­ings with Sir David Carter, the schools com­mis­sioner, about the op­por­tu­nity to have lo­cal gov­ern­ment-spon­sored acad­emy trusts. What size and scale they would be has yet to be de­fined but if the gov­ern­ment is to set up a sys­tem that favours acad­e­mies to the detri­ment of com­mu­nity schools, it seems a pretty sen­si­ble op­tion against our track­record of school im­prove­ment, which is one of the best in the coun­try.

“It means we should have the cre­den­tials to take a num­ber of com­mu­nity schools un­der our wing and put them in a KCCspon­sored acad­emy trust. We couldn’t com­pel any schools but if the model be­came at­trac­tive and if the gov­ern­ment keep in­tro­duc­ing things that ad­van­tage acad­e­mies and dis­ad­van­tage com­mu­nity schools – that has been the case – we have an op­por­tu­nity to do things dif­fer­ently.

“Grants to sup­port school im­prove­ment are di­min­ish­ing to such an ex­tent that pri­mary schools feel that there is se­cu­rity in num­bers by join­ing to­gether. It has a logic to it. We are ex­plor­ing the op­por­tu­nity – it doesn’t mean we are go­ing to do it. The gov­ern­ment is strug­gling to find spon­sors and free schools - this is some­thing that could be to ev­ery­one’s ad­van­tage.”

Multi-acad­emy trusts al­ready ex­ist in Kent and else­where but none are coun­cil-spon­sored. They are groups of schools run by one trust.

Across Kent, there are now 209 acad­e­mies against 372 main­tained schools.

Although there is noth­ing ex­plicit pre­vent­ing coun­cils from be­ing acad­emy spon­sors, Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion guid­ance says that trust boards must not have more than 20% of their mem­bers who are lo­cal author­ity in­flu­enced.

Kent County Coun­cil was at the fore­front of op­po­si­tion to the gov­ern­ment’s plan – which was ul­ti­mately aban­doned – for all schools to be­come acad­e­mies.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk

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