Schools boss’ academy fear

Education changes: cabinet member for education, Coun Ivan Taylor
Education changes: cabinet member for education, Coun Ivan Taylor
Have your say

Blackpool’s education boss has spoken out about the impact of academies as The Gazette revealed more than half of the resort’s schools could be out of local authority control from September.

Coun Ivan Taylor, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for education and children’s services, has told how the moves from council control to academy status have an impact on the council’s funding for education services.

Academisation is a Conservative programme which sees schools still publicly funded but no longer under local authority control, leaving them free to set their curriculum, term times and finances.

Of the resort’s 43 schools, 16 are already academies, and a further seven are seeking to convert from September.

Coun Taylor said: “It clearly does have an impact on funding because the money bypasses the council and goes straight into academies.

“We’ve nothing like we used to have; the school’s advisory service, but we have recently established another post. We’re stretched but still doing the job.

“And the job will not be the same but we still want to help schools as much as we can.

“We’re happy to support schools and provide services on a fee-paying basis, such as HR, payroll and legal, we can only do what we can do within the finance available to us.”

He said the council remains committed to supporting all schools: “If schools are resisting converting we will support them. If schools do convert we will work with them. No Labour authority can stop the process in which the government has the power to introduce an academy programme.”

But the Labour councillor has told how he does not believe the academy programme will last.

He added: “From my own point of view I’m opposed to academies, I always have been. I think it’s an unnecessary and dogmatic approach which achieves nothing and can cause a lot of disturbance for no advantage.

“I think academies really boils down to politics rather than what is in the best interests of young people.”

To date the resort only has one sponsored academy. South Shore Academy is sponsored by Bright Futures Educational Trust, a chain with seven schools in the North West, based in Manchester.

The remainder work in multi-academy trusts, either under church dioceses or with partner schools in the area.

Coun Taylor admits this has seen some schools which might not have been forced 
into academisation due to good results and standards choosing to convert in order to support struggling schools.

He added: “Some schools have said rather than being forced they’ll do it their own way. Our policy is sponsors should be local, educational and public sector.”