Waverley Council Leader writes about Government latest schools plans

In a letter written to the Farnham Herald, Waverley Liberal Democrat Chairman Stewart Edge has highlighted the Westminster Government's latest plans to change the schools policy in England.


Another nail in the coffin of the Conservative’s enthusiasm for localism. It seems that the Government hates Local Authorities so much that it now wants to take away their responsibility for running schools by forcing all schools (including primary schools) to become academies. At the same time it is removing the requirement that academies must have parents on their governing body - this despite parental involvement being so important that their manifesto said ‘We believe that parents and teachers should be empowered to run their schools independently’. While claiming that headteachers will have more control, real control over schools will now rest with academy chains (without any obligations for governor representatives from the locality) and directly with Central Government.

Just in case anyone thinks this is necessary to improve standards, OFSTED statistics show that local education maintained schools are better at improving inadequate schools than academies – and Sir Michael Wilshire (OFSTED’s head) has recently pointed out failings in seven Multi-Academy Trusts. Rather than government policy being ‘evidence led’ we can more and more see that it is ‘prejudice led’ – with a relentless prejudice against the public sector and in favour of the private sector.

Locally, apart from the lack of any local voices on how your children’s schools are run, deciding which schools get capital funding for buildings and the like will now be done centrally in Westminster - and it seems there will now be no chance that there can be ANY planning ahead for the increased number of school places that will be required as a result of the significant housebuilding planned for Waverley.

This proposed legislation was not in the Conservative’s manifesto and we must hope that either the government change their mind (with local Conservatives in Hampshire and North Yorkshire for example speaking against the plans) or that the unelected Lords block these outrageous plans.

Stewart Edge
Chairman, Waverley Liberal Democrats

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