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Academies

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether a new academy may be approved in an area where the local education authority is opposed to it; and if he will make a statement. (151880)

A large majority of academies replace existing weak or under-performing schools. Others are proposed by local authorities as brand new schools in areas needing extra schools places. Each of these academies is, in effect, jointly commissioned by the Department and the local authority, with the local authority a signatory to the formal academy project expression of interest.

Other academy projects are brought forward where an academy proposal wins the competition now required under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 for most new and replacement schools. The purpose of the competitions is to ensure that new schools exhibit the highest standards and quality and that they meet the needs of each locality. Competitions are decided by the relevant local authority, unless the local authority itself enters a proposal in the competition, in which case the competition is decided by the independent schools adjudicator.

There are also a small number of former fee-paying day schools, which want to become academies in order to transform their contribution to local education by expanding and broadening their pupil intake to the benefit of all local students. In these cases, the local authority is not a signatory to the expression of interest, but the Secretary of State is under a duty to consult the local authority before considering the academy’s formal funding agreement.