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Whitehall 'ignores' councils' schools advice

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Councils’ advice on where ‘hard to place’ children are educated is being ignored in Whitehall to favour academies by keeping such pupils out of them, the Local Government Association has said.

It called for powers for councils to direct academies to take such students, including those excluded from other schools.

The LGA noted that while councils could force maintained schools to admit excluded pupils, they must apply to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for a final decision where they consider an academy would better suit the child.

Some 90% of hard to place children were refused entry to academies, and only 15 of the 121 put forward to the EFA between 1 April 2012 and 31 October 2016 had been accepted by an academy.

The LGA said councils’ advice to the EFA “is being repeatedly ignored”, with Whitehall officials second-guessing local decisions.

Richard Watts (Lab), chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Councils have a statutory duty to ensure that all children have a school place and are receiving a good education.

“By ignoring local council advice the EFA is allowing academies to effectively choose the children they want to admit.

“Decisions about individual children should be made in the best interest of each child, not to protect favoured schools.”

 

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