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Academies and Free Schools (Accountability)

Volume 575: debated on Monday 10 February 2014

17. What steps he is taking to ensure that academies and free schools are accountable for their leadership and corporate governance. (902485)

Academies and free schools are subject to the same rigorous Ofsted inspection framework as maintained schools. Ofsted inspectors examine the impact of leaders at all levels and evaluate how effectively the school is governed and managed. The Education Funding Agency and our Department are also responsible for the oversight of academies and the free schools programme.

I thank the Minister for that response. Where both teaching staff and Ofsted, through these inspections, raise concerns about the management or governance of an academy or free school, what means are available to them to secure any necessary changes to both procedures and personnel?

The first thing staff and others should do in those circumstances is to raise their concerns with the governing body. If they are not satisfied with that, they should not hesitate to raise concerns with either the EFA or our Department. We always take such matters extremely seriously. If my hon. Friend has any concerns about any cases in his constituency, he should feel free to raise them with me or other Ministers.

22. Will the Minister assure the House that when a school that is currently under local authority control has more than one option for moving to academy status, that school and the community will have a genuine choice about which option to take? (902491)

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will seriously consider the local authority’s view, but we will ensure that the best possible sponsor is in place, and that is not always the sponsor identified by the local authority, especially if the authority itself has failed over a long period to raise standards in that school.

Does the Minister think that spending £1 million on a free school for 30 children in my constituency is good value for money when we have surplus places and really good local schools that are crying out for investment?

Free schools are being targeted at areas of basic need and where standards are low. We are trying to ensure that the free schools programme complements the Government’s work to provide school places and raise standards throughout the country.