Preston's Labour group wants to stop any further city high schools from turning into academies

Preston’s ruling political party has come out against a city high school’s plans to leave local authority control.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 1:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 2:04 pm

In early November Ashton Community Science College launched a six week consultation in to the proposal to become Preston’s newest academy.

But on Tuesday (December 17) – four days after the consultation period came to a close – the city council’s ruling Labour group pledged to oppose the further academisation of Preston schools.

A group spokesman claimed: “Independent research suggests there is little evidence academy status offers pupils a better standard of education than local authority schools.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Leader of the Labour-run Preston City Council Coun Matthew Brown, right, with Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell MP (Image: JPIMedia)

“Academies haven’t improved educational standards for underachievers as they set out to do.”

If successful, the move could see the Aldwych Drive school join the Bay Learning Trust, a multi-academy trust set up by Ripley St Thomas High School in Lancaster, where former Archbishop Temple head Gill Jackson is now headteacher.

Responding, Ashton CSC Business Support Officer Louise Hill did not comment directly on the Labour group’s position.

But she did say that a Full Governing Body will take place tonight (Wednesday, December 18) “to discuss responses to the academisation proposal”.

Mrs Hill added that a written response from the Leader of Labour-run Preston City Council, Coun Matthew Brown, has been received by the school and will be discussed alongside other responses.

The Labour group has said it will submit a notice of motion to January’s Full Council meeting opposing further academisation across Preston.

The group says this will involve liaising with Lancashire County Council, the authority with control over education across the red rose county, to express its concerns and work with local communities and teachers’ unions.

If successful, Ashton CSC would be funded directly by the Department for Education and have more control over its curriculum.

As part of the application process the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, will have to approve the school’s proposal.

A consultation will also be required with Lancashire County Council regarding a possible share of the Local Government Pension Scheme deficit.

Governors have previously said that the move goes will “not alter the unique nature of our school,” and “ the organisation and every day running of the school will continue as normal”.

Preston currently has three academies; Fulwood Academy in Black Bull Lane and two Muslim faith schools, Eden Boys and The Olive School which are both part of the same trust.

Of Lancashire’s 631 schools only 50 are academies.