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Greens u-turn on academy policy in Brighton?
Council chiefs are backing a bid for a new school to be free from town-hall control – in an apparent policy u-turn.
City College Brighton and Hove is drawing up plans to establish a studio school for about 300 14 to 19-year-olds.
As bosses finalise the bid to the Government Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat has confirmed there has been cross-party backing for the proposal, which will follow the academy process.
It marks a shift in the Green administration’s education policy, which had previously said it opposed free schools.
Political opponents have questioned the u-turn, which would help lift pressure on the city’s school places crisis.
Cllr Kitcat described it as a “unique proposal”, adding: “We have received assurances from City College that admissions won’t be selective and that a broad curriculum will be taught by qualified teachers receiving national pay and conditions.
"On that basis I’m delighted that all three political groups have backed this bid. The Green Party doesn’t support the government’s dismantling of council controlled education through academies and free schools.
"However, they are the only route through which our city can create much needed new schools. I believe this was a bid worth supporting.”
Offering GCSEs and vocational training in digital media the new school, advocates argue, will benefit those who prefer a more “hands-on” way of learning.
A bid has been submitted to the Department for Education and a decision is due in May. Coun Kitcat said all members of the Green group supported the bid.
Sue Shanks, Green chairman of the council’s children and young people committee and a strong critic of academies, had not responded to The Argus at the time of going print.
However, on her Twitter page she wrote: “The system is mad. We cannot build a new school. The government approves them. We support as we have a responsibility for children.”
Conservative councillor Andrew Wealls, who supports the plan, said: “Perhaps the Greens will now also stop calling this privatisation of education.
"It’s a great pity it has taken them so long as our crisis in school places in the city could have been addressed far earlier had they not clung on to their ideological objection.”
Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said her party has only ever given very provisional support to the proposal and had agreed they would need far more information on the plan before they could consider giving it any support at all.
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