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LGA TO RETHINK ROLE OF FAITH SCHOOLS

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The Local Government Association has announced a major rethink of the expansion of specialist and faith schools, an...
The Local Government Association has announced a major rethink of the expansion of specialist and faith schools, and a renewed call for the rejection of reserve powers to ring-fence education budgets.

In its official response to the education white paper the association published a detailed document with some key opposition to the paper's proposals.

'The LGA has deep reservations about the drive to increase faith schools. The move is potentially divisive and would be another indication of the central dictation of local education provision,' it said.

To safeguard social inclusion, the LGA suggested faith schools be voluntarily controlled, giving councils the authority for admissions and employment. It suggested setting up multi-faith schools.

'We don't want the Bradfords and Oldhams emerging, where we have white pupils in the Church of England schools and Muslims in community schools,' said LGA education executive chair Graham Lane (Lab).

The LGA questioned the evidence showing specialist schools outperform others.

'The advantage of specialist schools is more to do with the additional resources and the planning needed to become a specialist school than the specialism itself,' the response said.

The prospect of education secretary Estelle Morris having reserve ring-fencing powers over expenditure continues to be a bone of contention (LGC, 14 September).

'The LGA opposes this move. It is likely to have serious long-term effects on the funding of other services,' said the LGA.

Although supportive of partnerships, the association said it 'strongly opposed' the requirement for councils to advertise for organisations to establish schools.

The LGA said there was no evidence the external partners working with poor-performing schools would be more effective in raising standards than councils.

The education bill is due to start its passage through Parliament this month.

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