Tories disagree over restoring failing academies to councils

Regional schools commissioners should be allowed to rebroker academies back to councils if they can’t find another trust to sponsor them, according to the man in charge of education at Damian Hinds’s local council.

Stephen Reid, a Conservative councillor who serves as executive member for education and skills on Hampshire County Council, said the option should be open to RSCs to “approach the council” if an academy trust fails and a school is left orphaned.

Labour pledged at its party conference last month to allow councils to take back schools from failing trusts as part of a raft of reforms to the academies sector. Councillors, including many Conservatives, have called for the same powers, setting them at odds with their own government.

Reid, whose council looks after schools in the education secretary’s East Hampshire constituency, said he didn’t fully agree with Labour’s plans but would meet the party “probably about halfway”.

“I think the regional schools commissioners, if they have run out of options, they’ve tried academy chain one, two, three and four, and they haven’t got anywhere else to go, they should be given the power to re-approach the local authority and say: ‘I’ve run out of options, can you take it on?’.”

Reid said Labour’s wider plans to move all schools into a local accountability framework overseen by a National Education Service would be a “retrograde step”.