Academies should be made to take in excluded children

Academies should be made to take in excluded children, officials say 

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Telegraph

Town halls should have the power to force academies to take in excluded children, it has been suggested.

The Telegraph reports that, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), councils need to be able to direct these state schools to take in “hard to place” youngsters, such as those that have been removed from other schools, if they are the best fit for a child.

Under the current system, authorities can only force schools under their control to admit these children, and must apply to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) if they consider an academy to be the most suitable place for a child.

Government figures show that in the last four years, there have been 121 requests from councils to the EFA to direct an academy to admit a child, but only 15 directions have been issued.

This means that almost nine in 10 “hard to place” children have been refused entry to an academy, the LGA said.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Councils have a statutory duty to ensure that all children have a school place and are receiving a good education.

“By ignoring local council advice the EFA is allowing academies to effectively choose the children they want to admit.

“There are far stronger safeguards in place to ensure maintained schools do not cherry pick their pupils and the same measures should be in place for all academies.”

He added: “It is now vital that councils are urgently given the powers to take these decisions locally, based on their local knowledge of the children, families and schools involved.”

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