Sheffield MP behind plan to rein in academies

Sheffield MP David Blunkett.
Sheffield MP David Blunkett.
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Sheffield MP David Blunkett has put together plans to increase local control of academies and free schools - which are set to be at the heart of Labour election policy at next year’s General Election.

The former Education Secretary has accused Michael Gove of freeing some schools from all forms of accountability - except directly to him.

At the same time Mr Blunkett said all schools would be given some of the same freedoms academies enjoy, such as the power to change the structure of the school day.

The Brightside and Hillsborough MP said he wanted to put power over education back into local hands, and away from Whitehall.

“Contracts binding some schools to the Education Secretary but leaving them outside local scrutiny make a mockery of the Coalition’s localism policy,” he said.

“Labour would turn round control of the system by shifting powers away from central government and creating new independent directors of school standards to drive up results and intervene in troubled schools.”

Under the plans schools would be opened up to Freedom of Information requests and would have to publish certain financial information online, including major contract details, to increase transparency.

Mr Blunkett’s blueprint sets out 40 recommendations aimed at ‘putting students and parents first’.

It also underlines Labour’s existing calls for teachers to be properly qualified and an end to the ability of some schools to opt out of local admissions codes.

He added: “Schools are not factories to instil facts, and then hope that young people somehow make sense of them and become functioning adults. We must rely on delivering inspirational teaching and aspirational learning.”