Labour Councillor for Kempston South Carl Meader will submit a Motion to Full Council on Wednesday evening (24th February) proposing that a protocol be drawn up for a standard level of consultation for any school which is considering becoming an academy.
At present, the Academies Act 2010 requires either the school or sponsor to consult “such persons as they think appropriate” prior to electing to adopt Academy Status. The Full Council Motion proposes the development of a protocol for Bedford Borough which recommends procedures for converting schools to follow, and which will promote meaningful and consistent consultation. As a minimum those consulted prior to conversion should include pupils, parents, staff, neighbouring schools, parents at feeder schools and the Local Authority.
Cllr Meader said: “The statutory requirement doesn’t state who should be consulted or any length of time for consultation required, leading to inconsistencies in approach. Some parents may be unaware of the differences between academy schools and those schools still run by the Local Authority. These details should be made clear to everyone involved, including parents of children at feeder schools, and the teaching staff, whose opinions and input are vital.”
Supporting the Motion, James Valentine, Labour Councillor for Kempston Central & East said: “Many schools have become academies in recent years and their decision to do so impacts on families and on other schools in the locality. Parents and pupils have a right to express an opinion before such decisions are made, and should be consulted using a variety of methods such as letters, meetings and online surveys. It’s not a decision that should be made solely by a Governing body or one imposed by the Secretary of State.”