Lucy Powell: Labour would bring all academies and free schools back under local control

Labour will abandon its commitment to the academies programme and call for the schools to be returned to local control, after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.

Lucy Powell, appointed by Mr Corbyn this week as shadow education secretary, has spelled out plans to bring existing academies and free schools back in line with other state-maintained schools. The move is a major departure from the party’s established stance on the academies programme and signals a further repositioning of Labour away from the reforms introduced by the Tony Blair administrations.

Mr Blair’s academies programme has in recent years been claimed by the Conservatives, with former education secretary Michael Gove declaring that his own reforms continued this work.

Since the coalition government took power in 2010, the number of academies in England has rocketed from 203 to nearly 5,000, with almost 60 per cent of all secondary schools now directly accountable to the Department for Education.

Speaking to TES in her first print interview, Ms Powell said she wanted to devolve power over education, and that handing control of schools back to local, democratically elected officials would be at the “heart” of future Labour policy.

“Academies and free schools will remain. They will still exist as schools, but they will come under a different accountability system that will be local,” she said. “In some places that will be the local authority; in other places that may be the combined authority; and in other places it might be an elected mayor.”

To read the full interview, get the 18 September edition of TES on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents

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