A REVIEW of schools in the borough will have to be driven by headteachers because the county council is ‘powerless’ to act.
John Edwards, the head of learning and achievement for Worcestershire County Council, said a town wide review of schools was not possible because they had no authority over academies.
Speaking at a Redditch Area Forum meeting last Wednesday (October 1), he said the council had a duty to ensure there were adequate school places in the town which made them a part of the consultation process for Tudor Grange Academy Redditch’s plans to extend its age rage.
Although officers have been in regular discussions with headteachers and governors about the proposals, he said the decision was ultimately down to the Education Funding Agency.
“We cannot restrict a review just to Redditch because it would always affect somewhere else. There is a porous border in Worcestershire,” he said.
“What we can’t have is schools over here growing and having hundreds of places when we need it over there. It has to be balanced.
“The EFA has to make a decision for the best needs for all of the county and not just one school.
“It is not in the EFA’s interest to fund one school if it impacts on others. It needs to be financially right.”
He said the agency would have to pay for the changes to TGAR if the county council did not think more places were needed, while other academies in the borough would also have to seek funding from the agency if they wanted to expand because of the proposals.
He added a single school’s plan did not mean the destruction of the three tier system and it was not a straightforward decision to say one system was better than the other.
Following TGAR’s proposals, Webheath First School has also now suggested the idea of becoming part a Multi Academy Trust with the other schools it feeds in its pyramid.
Sharon Harvey, from the Redditch School Changes group, said she felt heartened there had been lots of meetings, discussions and consideration behind closed doors.
“I got the impression the county council had great reservations about the TGAR proposal, and Mr Edwards said if this issue was not contentious it would have been approved by now. As a group we are still in the same situation – waiting for the decision – but I am pleased to hear this further information.”