Academy status is optional. So if a school does not want to become an academy it does not have too! The Education Bill currently working its way through parliament will give the Secretary of State new powers to direct schools in ‘special measures’ to have an academy sponsor. But it is not yet law.
The issue of Local Authorities no longer providing services is more complex. LA’s statutory responsibilities have not changed. Central government is trying to shift LAs from ‘providers’ to ‘commissioners’ of services. But they are still legally required to ensure these services are available to schools. The government hope that the private sector will step in to provide these services in the future, although there is little sign that this is happening. Some LAs are deliberately winding down their central services in line with this ideological approach. Other LAs are cutting services due to the budget cuts. The effect is the same – the destruction of services for the most needy and vulnerable in our society.
The only answer to this is to fight back against cuts and privatisation. Schools should fight local campaigns against academy conversion, but also join with others to fight cuts.