At a meeting this week, Labour councillor Brigid Jones proposed the motion that: “This council believes that the government should not force well-achieving schools into a reorganisation that the school does not believe to be in the best interests of its pupils.”
Addressing the meeting in Birmingham, England’s most populous local authority area, she said: “Our children are human beings. They’re not soulless memory sticks, waiting to be pumped full of information.”
She went on to say that children’s different needs cannot be separated out: what goes on at home affects their ability to learn at school. “At a local level, we can pull agencies together,” she said.
By contrast, academy chains often lack specific local knowledge. “By cutting schools off from local accountability, we’re making a really grave error, which I think will have an impact on our children,” Ms Jones said.
The motion was seconded by Labour councillor Penny Holbrook. She told the meeting that the motion was not about political wrangling or one-upmanship.
“This is not one of those times when councillors are proposing a motion in order to score points off each other,” she said. “This motion is very much about our civic duty as city leaders to do the right thing by the children of Birmingham.”
A Department for Education spokesman insisted that the White Paper plans to make every school an academy were “the next step in ensuring every child has access to an excellent education by putting control in the hands of the teachers and school leaders who know their pupils best.”
He added: “We want to work constructively with the sector to deliver this and ensure standards continue to rise.”