Leeds City Council holding talks on academies’ future

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EDUCATION bosses in Leeds are in talks with the Government over the future of two academies in the city which have been left without a sponsor after a national chain withdrew.

E-Act has agreed to give up control of ten of its 34 schools, including both Leeds West and Leeds East Academies, amid concerns about the chain’s ability to maintain standards.

The Department for Education (DfE) is now looking for new sponsors for the schools affected. Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services Coun Judith Blake told the Evening Post that the authority had offered to support the school and was also in talks with the DfE over the situation. However she warned that it was still unclear who would be sponsoring or running the academies in the future.

Leeds West is a good school while Leeds East has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted.

Coun Blake said the DfE could consider making Leeds West the sponsor of the Leeds East Academy with responsibility for running both schools rather than bringing in an outside sponsor. Nobody was available for comment at either school yesterday.

Academies are state schools which are run independently from local councils.

There are two routes to becoming an academy. Successful state schools can opt out of council control and convert to academy status while the DfE has also brokered sponsors to take over struggling schools and convert them into academies. E-Act is still responsible for running 24 academies across the country.

The National Union of Teachers’ deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney has criticised the Government’s drive to open more academies. He said: “As the NUT has said all along, changing the status of a school does not improve results. In fact the data shows that sponsored academies are doing no better in their GCSE results than similar non-academy counterparts.”

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