Speech to Northampton Borough Council April 2017
Earlier this evening the Leader spoke about commissioning Deloitte to assess the options for possible Unitary Status. It is good to hear that investigations are underway to suggest ways to deliver the best quality services.
As a council we need to be looking forward to the challenges and responsibilities which face this council in the years to come. We must start thinking of the way we would want to shape the services offered to the residents of the town. If we are to become a Unitary authority we must prepare.
Our concern tonight is the future of our schools both at the moment and looking to the future. The move of schools away from local authority control towards Academisation has not been without problems. The recent request from the Education Fellowship Trust to transfer all 12 of its academies to new sponsors and the dismissal of 40 support staff from Malcolm Arnold Academy is an indication of the difficulties faced by these Academy Trusts.
How can an educational system where the pay of the CEO of the trust is based on the Ofsted reports enhance teaching and learning? David Ross Education Trust has 33 academies. 17 of these are either rated 'good or outstanding' (16 are in need of improvement). The CEO is paid £10,000 for every good/outstanding school in the group. Her salary is £170,000 per year. A 13% rise. . This is no way to run education for our children. It is a business model and with headteacher's pay between £150,000 to over £300,000 no wonder these trusts run into financial difficulty. With only some staff receiving the recommended 1% pay rise teachers often stay no longer that 5 years . There is uncertainty and recruitment is an issue. There are 90 Primary posts advertised in Northamptonshire as of yesterday. It is time to think about the possibility of bring some academies back into local authority control.
The Educational Select committee made up from MPs of all parties has recommended that Local Authorities should be allowed to create MAT's. This is backed up by the National Schools Commissioner saying that he would not want 'to get in the way' of entire councils wanting to establish their own trusts. The Educational Policy Institute has also called for the government to allow high performing councils to set up their own trusts.
Analysis by the Local Government Association shows that local authority maintained schools continue to perform more highly in Ofsted inspections than academies. With the low attainment of many pupils in Northampton this is an added concern.
We are failing our children if we do not consider ways of securing their educational future. We must start putting into place the mechanisms for taking on the responsibilities and building capacity to establish our own Trust and use the expertise we have to deliver outstanding schools.