Norfolk schools urge caution on academy strategy

Councillors were yesterday urged not to disadvantage schools that did not want to become academies as Norfolk considered its approach to the new education model.

The comments came as the county council's children's services overview and scrutiny committee discussed plans which could see the authority actively encouraging schools to become academies.

Concerns about the accountability of academies, the authority's role, and the fate of schools remaining under council control were raised.

Representing Norfolk's primary schools, Sue Cooke warned the council was in danger of imposing a 'one size fits all' approach. She said: 'I would urge caution and ask that you consider the impact on primary schools in the county.'

Mrs Cooke said she feared funding for schools still under local authority control would dwindle as money was diverted to academies with control of their own budgets.


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The panel's secondary school adviser, Chrissie Smith, said high schools could be 'caught adrift' if academy status did not work out.

But Lisa Christensen, director of children's services, insisted the council would still have a responsibility to all children whether they attended schools or academies.

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A series of recommendations which would see the council take a positive approach to academy status – encouraging high schools and helping more primary schools convert – will go before the council's cabinet members on Monday.

On Wednesday, plans to write to every school in the Norwich area to encourage thorough consultations when considering conversion – including a secret ballot – were approved by Norwich City Council's cabinet.

A proposal at yesterday's county council committee to advise schools on the way consultations should be carried out was defeated.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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