Northampton academy schools ‘becoming unaccountable to the public’

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Academy schools in Northampton are in danger of becoming unaccountable to parents or the public, a teaching union has said.

Most of the secondary schools and almost half the primary schools in Northamptonshire are academies,which frees them from oversight by the Northamptonshire County Council.

Several parents have approached the Chron in recent weeks frustrated at the lack of interest academy schools have in following up potentially serious complaints and the lack of options bring them to book.

Stuart Coe, of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Northamptonshire Branch, said it was a concern how tax payer-funded schools in the county were quickly becoming beyond scrutiny by local people.

He said: “It’s going the way of the corporate world and that’s not right.

“If a complaint is raised then it should be dealt with openly and properly.

“The problem is with academies there is no local accountability if you have tyo travel miles to a central office to be seen in person and, with some, no accountability at all.

“Parents should be outraged if that is not happening because of how academies are set up.”

The Chron has struggled to investigate complaints against a particular county school recently after Governors and headteachers refused to speak directly -either on or off the record - and Northamptonshire County Council was unable to help or investigate itself.

Officially, Regional Schools Commissioners - in Northamptonshire’s case Martin Post - should hold academies here to account.

However they are ultimately hosted by The Department for Education, which refused to look into the complaints when approached by the Chron, saying it was an internal matter for the school.

Mr Coe said the problem was compounded by the cut made to local councils.

He said: “The local authority no longer have the capacity to deal with a lot of the functions that they once did.

“They have very much scaled down on what they can offer in education and we are also worried about some of the top-slicing that goes on.

“In many matters with academies they are powerless to hold academies to account and that’s a worry.”