Two Tier for Stowmarket after all as Academy bids shelved

Graham Newman, Suffolk
Education Portfolio Holder
The DfE have shelved academy bids by three Stowmarket Middle Schools at the eleventh hour to allow Suffolk County Council and local schools to develop plans to move the area to two-tier education. The move apparently follows lobbying by senior Tory councillors and MPs.

I think that the DfE have (finally) made the right decision here and I agree with what what Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member and Portfolio Holder for Education Graham Newman said to the EADT:
“We are still keen to move the whole of Suffolk to a two-tier system and a significant amount of primary schools in the Stowmarket area want to be part of a two-tier system, 
If these middle schools had been allowed to become academies, it would have created a little island in the system"
To me though this is further evidence that trying to run every school in England from Westminster just does not work. As reader's of my blog know I am a frequent critic of Suffolk County Council but on this issue they are right and Gove has been wise to listen to Graham Newman.

I do hope that DfE will reflect on giving local education authorities a more strategic role in education rather than continuing the trend started by the Labour government of giving more and more power personally to the Secretary of State. I have blogged about this already in my post Is this Gove's Brave New World for Schools.

It won't help Gove's free schools and academies policies if the kind of mess that has occurred in West Suffolk happens elsewhere. If the DfE won't relinquish control of this to local authorities (and I strongly suspect they will not) then maybe a formal consultation process for local education authorities would be a way to give more local input.

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