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'All West Sussex schools should become academies' - Tory councillor
All schools in West Sussex should become academies or free schools, the county council's cabinet member for education has said.
Conservative councillor Peter Griffiths said that the authority's 250-plus schools should in time convert to try to improve standards.
His comments came in response to a 500-signature petition calling on the council to withdraw its automatic support of academies.
Speaking to The Argus yesterday, Mr Griffiths said: “The most important thing here is to improve educational standards.
“We need to make sure that is our priority and the politics and the rest can be forgotten.
“There is absolutely no deadline or anything like that. It will be a gradual change not a gallop.”
A petition was presented to the council by the West Sussex Academy Alliance, which formed following the controversial conversion of Worthing High School.
The school officially converted at the beginning of December after a 10 month battle which saw a series of staff walkouts.
The wording of the petition reads: “We the undersigned request that the county council cease its commitment to the academies programme in the light of the experiences of parents, students and staff at Worthing High School.”
Sarah Maynard, from West Sussex Academy Alliance, said: “Mr Griffiths has listened to our argument and promised that there will be no pressure on schools to convert.
“Additionally he said that there would be no funding cuts to those who choose not to convert.
“If enough teachers oppose their school's move to academy then there's that can be done.
“We were pleased with what we heard and will make sure that Mr Griffiths stays true to his word.”
Coun Griffiths reassured those unsure about academies that the local authority would remain in constant contact with those in charge.
He said: “We are still responsible for many things when it comes to academies so will be heavily involved.
“If there is a problem then I need to be able to call the chief executive and find out what is happening. I will make sure that that is the case.”
So far 27 schools in West Sussex have become academies.
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