Exclusive: Academy 'secrecy' concerns over lack of headteacher board minutes

25th November 2016 at 12:02
Some headteacher boards have not published any minutes for meetings since May.
Despite government pledge for more openness, regional headteacher boards have not disclosed records of meetings for months

Powerful official committees that help make key decisions about the future of hundreds of schools have not released any record of their activities for more than half a year, TES can reveal.

The news that none of England’s regional headteacher boards (HTBs) have published minutes since June, has led critics to condemn the “secrecy” surrounding the government’s academies programme.

Conservative chair of the Commons Education Select Committee Neil Carmichael told TES: “There’s a paucity of useful information available online about the work of headteacher boards. Failing to publish meeting minutes in a timely fashion does little to improve this potentially promising component of the regional schools commissioners (RSC) system.

“The Department for Education [DfE] and RSCs need to up their game and ensure up-to-date information is published to ensure there is transparency and accountability.”

The boards meet in private up to twice a month and help decide which schools become academies, who runs them, which schools are not performing well enough, and which free school applications are approved.

One board, for South East England and South London, has not published the minutes of any meetings since 5 May.

Robert Hill, an education consultant and former Downing Street adviser to Tony Blair, said: “This is an area where we need transparency.

“We need to have some understanding of why schools are going to some trusts rather than others. We are talking about a lot of public money moving about.

“On the whole, I think most RSCs and HTBs would generally be acting from good motives, but we need to operate in a transparent environment and we need to let the light in.”

Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People board, contrasted the lack of information about the operation of the RSCs and HTBs with the requirements for openness when councils made decisions about maintained schools.

A DfE spokesperson said: “Minutes for recent head teacher board minutes will be published shortly.”

This is an edited article from the 25 November edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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