Umunna: Imposition of academy status on Lambeth schools unacceptable

The government must come clean on any plans to impose academy status on schools in Lambeth, Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has said.  

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna

He made the call after the government revealed in answer to Parliamentary Questions that it is exploring imposing Academy Status on three Lambeth Primary schools without reference to parents, school governors or local opinion.

In a series of parliamentary questions, Mr. Umunna asked the government to detail what discussions they have had with either Lambeth Local Authority or Lambeth primary schools about requiring a conversion of a local primary school into an academy.

In answer to a question Mr. Umunna put to the Education Secretary asking whether the Department for Education was considering imposing academy status on any Lambeth school, the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, said the government intended “to explore” imposing academy status on three Lambeth Primary Schools.

Mr. Umunna requested that the government name the three Lambeth Schools in a follow-up question but the government has refused to do so.

Mr. Umunna has now submitted a Freedom of Information Request in order that local parents can be informed as to the future status of Lambeth Schools.

“My primary concern is that our children should get the best education possible so they can realise their full potential,” Mr. Umunna said. “It is crucial that the voice of the school community – parents, pupils, governors and staff – is heard and accounted for when decisions are made. It is wholly unacceptable for the Education Secretary and his Whitehall mandarins to seek to impose academy status on our local schools without the consent of the community. This would also fly in the face of government rhetoric which claims Ministers want to see decision making devolved down to a local level.”

Mr. Umunna said the government’s answers to his questions in Parliament have not been sufficient to provide reassurance to local parents.

“Parents deserve to know all the facts about any proposed top-down interference in our local schools. The fact that the Government has said that three unnamed Lambeth schools might have academy status imposed on them, without reference to local parents or local opinion, is deeply worrying,” Mr. Umunna said.