Reverse £600m reduction to schools improvement grant, councils argue

Councils are calling on the government to reverse the proposed £600 million reduction to the Education Services Grant.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says that the money should be used to maintain improvement capacity within the schools system, which will be beneficial to both council-maintained schools and academies.

According to the LGA, there isn’t capacity within the system to withdraw funding and the proposed reduction will ‘leave councils with little resource to perform their statutory duties’, which includes education welfare, school improvement, admissions, exam validation and recruitment.

The LGA claims that support available through Teaching School Alliances, multi-academy trusts and Regional Schools Commissioners is not yet geographically comprehensive and does not have the same 'track record of success' as council school improvement oversight.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA's children and young people board, said: “The government has been clear that councils will have a continuing role in school place planning, school admissions and protecting the needs of the most vulnerable children, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Councils need sufficient funding and powers to discharge these vital responsibilities.

"This includes reserve powers in support of their place planning and vulnerable pupil responsibilities to direct schools of all types, if voluntary agreement cannot be reached.

"We do not believe there is capacity within the system to withdraw funding and powers for councils to support school improvement and hold schools to account in August 2017 as currently planned by the government.

"The £600 million proposed cut to the Education Services Grant should be reversed to maintain improvement capacity within the schools system. This will benefit both council-maintained schools and academies."

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