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Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what role the (a) academy sponsor and (b) local authority plays in deciding whether an academy should be a new-build or refurbishment project. (154104)

We expect that most academy projects will be a mix of new build and refurbishment unless it is agreed, by the local authority and Partnerships for Schools (PfS), that none of the school buildings is capable of supporting the delivery of the sponsor's educational vision.

In order to determine the level of refurbishment or new build, surveys are carried out in the early stages of an academy project. In the case of projects to be delivered via the National Framework, PfS will take the lead role in carrying out these surveys with each academy being inspected and re-developed based on its individual needs. Where academies are delivered as part of BSF we would expect that LA to carry out these surveys as part of its review of school provision.

The sponsor will be consulted on the outcome of such surveys but the final decision will rest with DCSF as part of their project approval processes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his policy is on establishing academies in areas where local authorities object; and if he will make a statement. (154706)

The Office of the Schools Commissioner discusses any schools which meet academies criteria with the relevant local authority before any steps are taken to identify sponsors. Academies are, in effect, jointly commissioned by the Department and the relevant local authorities.

Local authorities are increasingly becoming engaged in the strategic planning of multiple academies in their localities, within their wider school rebuilding and transformational strategies. Academies exemplify the new role of local authorities as “commissioners” rather than “providers” of schools. The Government are ready to engage with local authorities who wish to consider multiple academy projects as part of their strategies for transforming educational standards and opportunity.