Borough council votes down bid to allow it to take over failing school trusts in Northampton

Councillor Danielle Stone said the law should be changed to allow boroughs to take over failing school trusts.

Councillor Danielle Stone said the law should be changed to allow boroughs to take over failing school trusts.

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A bid to petition the Government to allow the borough council to run failing academy trusts in Northampton was shut down by town Conservatives.

In February the Tory-chaired House of Commons Education Select Committee recommended local authorities should be given the power to sponsor their own academy trusts.

And at this week's full Northampton Borough Council meeting, the opposition Labour group called on the administration to begin petitioning the education secretary to amend the laws currently preventing them from doing so.

But despite two Northampton Schools recently falling foul of a poor performing trust - the Education Fellowship - the Tory-run borough council voted down the motion.

Labour group leader, Councillor Danielle Stone, said: “Parliamentary select committee which has Conservative and Labour MPs, proposed that local authorities should be allowed to set up and sponsor academies.

"At the moment there is a national ban on this, but I want to see this removed. When the select committee are proposing is a helpful innovation in the education system. It is a shame the Tories put ideology first in voting the motion down."

The motion comes two months after the Education Fellowship, which formerly ran Blackthorn Primary School and Thorplands Primary School, announced it would have to hand its schools back to the Department for Education due to ailing finances.

A 2014 report by the Education Funding Agency raised serious concerns about the way its money wwas being managed - questioning why academy bosses spent £20,000 on a "fact-finding" trip to New York.

Speaking for the Conservatives during the full borough council meeting this week though, Councillor Matt Golby, (Con, New Duston) who is also the cabinet member for education on the county council, said: "This motion just isn't right for us here.

"It doesn't belong here. It is something I could support if we do become a unitary authority at some point."

The motion was lost by a majority, though members of the public, and teachers, had also spoken in favour of petitioning the Government for a change in the law.

The Local Government Association is also in favour of thew move, recently stating local authorities could play a big part in "raising education standards and improving life chances" by setting up and running academy schools and, where necessary, taking on the running of failing academies.