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Lib Dems demand proper consultation on Academies

July 15, 2008

Liberal Democrats in Hastings and on East Sussex County Council (ESCC) have demanded a proper consultation in respect of the proposal to close three Hastings secondary schools and to open two Academies. Conservative-run ESCC decided, at a meeting of its Cabinet on 8 July, to press ahead with a feasibility study and consultation about the plan, as part of the important task of improving educational attainment for secondary school pupils in Hastings.

However Unions, staff, parents and pupils have all been shocked by the move.

Lib Dem shadow member for Children’s Services, Cllr Kathryn Field, has said that the Council must listen to key stakeholders:

“As Liberal Democrats we want to see schools given the freedom to innovate and succeed, but we have concerns about the Academies plan and the bottom line is that it must be an acceptable plan to local people.

“There is a legal requirement for consultation as part of the feasibility study. The Liberal Democrat Group will be holding the Conservative administration to account on this. Any sniff of a whitewash and we will be down on them like a tonne of bricks.”

Nick Perry, the 31 year old parliamentary campaigner for Hastings & Rye, who has just joined his Party’s national Policy Working Group on Young People, says,

“Everyone agrees that we must prioritise and deliver improvement in educational attainment for the young people of Hastings. There is no time to lose, and we must think creatively about how to achieve this goal. But my instinct is more haste, less speed with the Academies model. Our MP wants full steam ahead, but I am urging caution.

“We must, for example, preserve the important principle of our schools being accountable to local people and to local government. We must preserve the rights of children with special needs. And we must remember that there is more to regeneration than expensive new buildings.”

Cllr Richard Stevens, Leader of the Lib Dems on Hastings Borough Council says,

“Lib Dems locally will be doing all we can to provide information and support to worried staff and parents who, understandably, will be wanting to know what the plans mean for them.”

[What do you think about the Academies plan?]

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