Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it is his intention to make every school accountable to local education authorities.
Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Mr Corbyn, who was elected leader of the party earlier this month, appeared at odds with his new shadow education secretary Lucy Powell on the subject of schools.
The MP for Islington North thanked Ms Powell for the work she had already undertaken on education policy where “every school is accountable to local government through local education authorities. Not bringing back selection because we have aspirations for all children, not the few.”
His words follow on from the arguments he made in the Labour leadership race, that academies and free schools should be brought back under local authority control.
But when asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning whether her party would be returning control over all schools to the local authority, Ms Powell said they would not.
“No, what I’ve said is that by 2020 nearly every secondary school – and most primary schools – will be a free school or an academy,” she said.
“I think the idea that the secretary of state herself can manage and oversee and support all those schools directly is wrong-headed.
“We should have local oversight of those schools. It’s not the same as how we used to have local government control. We will work through the exact detail of that. But, look, if you take things like supporting local schools, collaborating amongst communities of schools, place planning, which are really critical issues that at the moment no one has an oversight of, which is why we have such a chronic shortage of places.”
Speaking to TES in her first print interview as shadow education secretary, Ms Powell said academies and free schools would remain, but they would come under a “different accountability system that will be local”.
“In some places that will be the local authority; in other places that may be the combined authority; and in other places that might be an elected mayor.”