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LAs call for all schools to become academies

Local authority bosses in charge of children's services across the country have called for all schools to become academies.

In an ambitious move, directors of children's services have written to Education Secretary Michael Gove outlining plans for local authorities to play a more active part in transforming all schools into academies.

The letter - published yesterday to mark the start of the annual Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) conference in Manchester - sets out the plans which, the association says, would avoid creating a two-tier schools system.

Speaking at the event, Marion Davis, president of ADCS, said local authorities were best placed to provide "strategic oversight" and support in the process, but demanded they retain the role of planning places and admissions.

She said: "We must avoid creating a two-tier system where children get different opportunities depending on where they live or whether their local school is an academy. What parents and young people want is a good, local school that can provide access to a broad curriculum, good-quality teaching and additional support for the most vulnerable children as and when they need it, whether in an academy or not.

"What is required is strategic oversight of provision in the area in the number of places available and their quality. The local authority is best placed to perform this role. A managed transfer of all secondaries to academy-style schools would reduce the risk of duplication and unnecessary expenditure inherent in the current 'permissive' approach."

The Department for Education widely supported the move, particularly as many observers predicted a backlash against academies at local government level.

But Mr Gove is expected to dismiss the idea of local authorities retaining admissions over schools as this remains a key feature of academy freedoms.

A DfE spokesman said local authorities were "central" to its reform plans, but added that the academies programme was a "genuinely permissive policy". He added that it was down to "every single primary, secondary and special school itself to decide what's best for its own future, not politicians".

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