Labour has announced that it will bring an ‘immediate end’ to the academy and free schools programme as being ‘not fit for purpose’ should it win power.
The shadow education minister Angela Rayner revealed the plans to the Labour Party conference but made clear that those secondaries and primaries that have already left local authority control are not going to be affected.
Instead, Labour says that school admission powers, along with building new schools, should be returned to local councils.
So far, two in three secondary schools and one in five primaries have become academies or free schools.
Academies receive their funding direct from central government and not from their local authority and are independent of local council control. Free schools are academies that have been created by teachers, parents, trusts and charities to deliver education.
Academies and free schools help to drive up educational standards
The government says that academies and free schools help to drive up educational standards by creating competition and innovation in the system.
However, Labour’s new proposals take last year’s manifesto pledge to only end the creation free schools a step further.
Their plans will see the responsibilities for making decisions and budgets being transferred to a governing body of elected teachers, parents, community representatives and school staff.
In her speech to delegates, Ms Rayner says that academies and free schools have not improved standards or empowered parents or school staff.
She said: “The Tories have thrown money at the free school and academy programme but it’s not improving outcomes for pupils, while individual schools see their budgets being cut.”
Labour’s plans for education
Labour’s plans for education will also see councils being free to build new schools and all publicly funded schools will be brought back into the public sector and under local democratic control.
Labour also says that its plans would lay down national pay rules that would prevent academy executives from paying themselves big salaries.
Other educational reforms being planned will see councils being able to take back failing academies into their control, plus a new generation of cooperative schools which enable teachers and parents to become more involved in running their school.
Also, under current rules, a local authority cannot compel an academy to expand their operations but under Labour plans they will be forced to do so.
Labour has also revealed that it is looking into the possibilities of creating a state funded supply teacher agency.
This will compete with commercial providers and, they claim, could save schools up to £500 million every year.