Councils rebuffed over schools’ role

    Local government leaders have expressed dismay at the
    government’s resistance to renewed attempts to make schools more
    accountable for the well-being of children.

    Their criticism follows the withdrawal in the House of Lords
    last week of an amendment to the Education Bill. It would have put
    a duty on school inspectors to examine how well schools were
    working with children’s services authorities, set up under the
    Children Act 2004, to improve pupils’ well-being.

    Similar moves to extend responsibility to schools under the
    Children Act, backed by the Local Government Association, police,
    children’s charities and school governors, were blocked as the bill
    went through parliament last year after opposition from schools and
    teaching unions.

    Commenting on the latest set-back, chair of the LGA’s children
    and young people board Alison King insisted that schools should be
    forced to co-operate with other agencies. “There is a dislocation
    between schools, which are becoming more autonomous, and local
    authorities, which will be judged on their ability to provide for
    children’s well-being.” This would be exacerbated by plans in the
    Education Bill to ring-fence schools’ budgets, further distancing
    them from local authorities, she said.

    But education minister Lord Filkin told the House of Lords that
    the amendment represented “a substantial loss of focus away from
    the school and the work it does for its own pupils”.

    But he added that the government was in “full agreement” with
    the principle that schools must play an active role within the
    wider community and could not work in isolation from one another or
    from agencies providing services for children and young people and
    their families.

    Government plans to spell out the need for schools to co-operate
    with partner agencies are expected to be included in forthcoming
    guidance.

     

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