Professionals back federations fund but fear worst for green paper aims

Campaigners have welcomed new funding for councils to set up federations to help struggling schools in deprived areas, but warn that other proposals in the Education and Inspections Bill will threaten the Every Child Matters agenda.

The £30m fund, announced alongside the bill, is intended to help councils drive up standards in weaker schools by creating federations between schools that are struggling and those that are excelling in the most deprived communities.

But although John Chowcat, general secretary of the Association of Professionals in Education and Children’s Trusts, supported the fund, he suggested it was a “sweetener” for local authorities and MPs.

Chowcat said he still had concerns that the independent self-governing trust schools proposed in the bill could threaten the Every Child Matters aim of schools co-operating with other services to serve all children well.

Education bill key points

Campaigners have also criticised the bill’s proposal to allow the education secretary to block council bids to set up community schools.

The schools white paper, published last October, stated that no new community schools would be created, but this has been changed so councils must ask the education secretary for permission before launching bids to create schools.

Alison King, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, welcomed the change but said it did not go far enough. “We object to the introduction of a potential veto from the secretary of state,” she said.

The government’s response to the House of Commons education and skills committee’s report on the schools white paper, also out this week, rejects calls for a duty to be placed on local authorities to monitor school admissions arrangements.

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