Surrey

Surrey county-wide academy plan shelved

A council has apparently reversed its position on plans for all of Surrey's secondary schools to become academies.

Surrey County Council wrote to the government in July suggesting its 53 secondary schools could become academies at the same time.

Council leader Dr Andrew Povey said he did not think the proposal was right for the county's schools.

Under the government's Academies Act, "outstanding" schools are being encouraged to become academies.

Dr Povey, who has led the Conservative-controlled council since last June, told BBC's Politics Show South East that 70% of schools in Surrey were rated outstanding or good by Ofsted.

He said: "Given the excellent results we have already got in Surrey, we have to ask ourselves whether this would take us even further.

"I think there are disadvantages in it as well, in the sense that we work together in a very collegiate way in Surrey.

"We have a fantastic set of schools, a fantastic set of results, and I'm just not sure this is right for Surrey."

When asked whether the proposal in the letter was part of the council's current plans, he replied: "It's an option but I think on further examination when we looked at the situation in a little more detail we actually think that the case for all of Surrey schools becoming academies is not as strong as at that point in our thinking."

He said it was up to individual schools to decide whether they wanted to become academies.

Academies are publicly-funded schools which operate outside local authority control and are funded directly by central government.

'Exciting proposal'

They have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum and teachers' pay and conditions.

Dr Povey added: "I do fully support the national academy programme because I think giving schools the freedom to flourish is exactly what we want."

In the letter sent to Education Secretary Michael Gove, the council said it was in the early stages of exploring the "exciting proposal to potentially create 53 academies in Surrey at the same time".

Dr Povey said he did not see every letter sent out by council officials.

He added: "At the end of the day it's up to the schools themselves whether they choose to become academies or not."

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