Sandwell partnership seeks to bridge state-academy divide


An education authority in the Midlands has brokered a pledge from maintained schools and academies in its area to work together to improve standards of learning.

Education chiefs in Sandwell have come up with a three-year plan of action and during a recent education summit all sides agreed on a series of steps for improvement.

The council claims that the Department for Education (DfE) cannot cope with supporting so many academies across the country and felt it needed to step in.

The Schools Forum, a local council-backed body run by headteachers in Sandwell, has agreed to set aside £1.5 million for improvement activities and all of the secondary schools and academies have signed up to the agreement.

The council will work with them to help them share good practice and to support those schools and academies requiring additional help. The council is also helping to review the cost of contracts for services that some schools receive.

Councillor Darren Cooper, leader of Sandwell Council, said they were committed to working with all schools and academies to deliver high-quality education.

He continued: “It is clear that the DfE does not have the capacity to support its own academies properly and as a council we have recognised that and taken action for the good of all of our children.

“The summit started with an open and honest debate. It was important that difficult conversations happened to clear the air and move things forward. 

“Headteachers soon warmed to the conversation when it became clear the council is here to help schools and academies to improve, rather than to sit here and wag our finger at them.

“We have some very good schools in Sandwell and also a number of schools that will achieve a good or better grading by Ofsted at their next inspection. We want to work together to make sure these schools have the support they need to continue improving.

“Our children deserve the best possible secondary school education – whether that is in academy schools or in council-maintained schools – and the package of support we have put together is accessible by all.

“As 70 per cent of secondary schools are now academies it is important that proposals to improve secondary performance can support and benefit all pupils,” he added.



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