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Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what mechanisms exist for (a) parents and (b) staff to submit complaints about the operation of academies. (324350)

Academies are required by the independent school standards regulations to have a complaints procedure which must be available on request to parents. The procedure must provide for complaints to be managed within clear time scales. If initial informal consideration does not resolve the complaint, then the procedure must also include steps to escalate a complaint through both a formal written stage and, if necessary, a hearing before a panel that includes at least one member who is independent of the academy.

If the complaint cannot be resolved at school level from the 1 April 2010, the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA) will be the next route of redress. The YPLA will review the evidence provided by the complainant and the academy to determine if the academy has followed its own complaints procedure or is in breach of a contractual or statutory obligation. If the academy has not followed its procedures or obligations it will be asked to do so to rectify any failings.

Ultimately a complaint can be referred to the Secretary of State on the grounds that a governing body is acting or proposing to act unreasonably or on the grounds that either has failed to discharge its duties. The same procedure as stated above also applies to staff who want to complain about academies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what budgetary provision he has made for the Young People's Learning Agency to offer (a) support and (b) challenge of academies in 2010-11. (324847)

Provision has been made for £6.3 million to both support and challenge academies in financial year 2010-11, through School Improvement Partners, National Challenge Advisers, other education advisers and support delivered through the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. In addition some academies will receive National Challenge funding in the same way that maintained schools do. These budgets will be held with the Department for Children, Schools and Families until the function for educational support and challenge of open academies transfers to the Young People's Learning Agency in September 2010.