The following letter to the editor was published in the Birmingham Post on 23 December 2014;

Dear Editor,

Tristram Hunt says the school system is too fragmented (B Post 4 December, p20). He is right, but the main reason is the spread of academies and free schools outside local authority oversight. He is also right to say that their lack of local accountability creates the opportunity for governance malpractices such as we have seen in Birmingham. But Hunt advocates the continuation of academies and of free schools (re-branded as ‘parent-led academies’) and of the cuts that have decimated the local authority. Labour’s new policy document Education and Children says it ‘will deliver a radical devolution of power from Whitehall. Labour will empower local communities to have a greater say about education in their area’, but Hunt is proposing the creation of a new government post of Director of School Standards with the powers of an unelected colonial administrator over Birmingham schools and the local authority. The role of the DSS is unnecessary and the proposal should be opposed. What we need is to bring academies and free schools back into a unified, properly resourced and democratised local authority, with oversight by an independent HMI as appropriate, not controlling schools but with the capacity to ensure support, intervene where necessary, and be responsive and accountable to the people of Birmingham.

Richard Hatcher

Birmingham Campaign for State Education

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