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Education Law implications of 2016 Budget

View profile for Andrew Barrowclough
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George Osborne's 2016 budget has been announced and wide reaching changes to the education sector are going to be implemented. The education secretary Nicky Morgan has provided further detail with a white paper.To assist parents we have outlined these changes below together with our legal opinion on what practical effect this will have on children and families:·A plan to rebalance school funding away from London and other inner cities will be accelerated with an additional £500m investment.·A firm commitment to turn all schools into academies within the next six years.·A £285m investment which would fund a longer school day at a quarter of secondary schools.·The government is considering making all pupils study maths to the age of 18, the chancellor has announced in his budget statement. The move was welcomed by prominent mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, but critics claim it is "undeliverable" because of a critical shortage of maths teachers.The biggest change undoubtedly relates to the plan to convert all schools in England into Academics by 2022 but there is concern that this plan is too ambitious. Neil Carmichael, the Tory chair of the Commons education select committee, which is to investigate multi-academy trusts (MATs), warned the government would face "significant challenges" in implementing the plan. He has stated:·"Some academies are delivering great results for their pupils but, in progressing to a fully academised system, we must ensure all schools are properly held to account for their performance.·"MATs already play a substantial role in our education system and they will be increasingly important as all state schools move to becoming academies. MATs currently receive little scrutiny and in our inquiry we are determined to examine their performance, accountability, and governance.·"The government will face significant challenges in implementing these proposals. The drive to change school structures will pose particular issues for primary schools, where only around 15% are currently academies."The costs of converting also need to be taken into account and the timesclaes outlined are very tight already in terms of implementing these changes. Furthermore there are ideological issues to consider because a number of schools simply do not want to convert. The government consider that giving schools more power and choice in terms of governing themselves raises standards and reduces costs. The evidence to date however is inconclusive as some newly created academies are failing whereas others are thriving. Many maintained schools also continue to have high standards.For parents these proposals may have a significant effect or may make little difference. One of the main areas of interest relates to special educational needs law and how the Local Authority responsibility to maintain an EHCP or statement of SEN conflicts with the implementation of the relevant support. The relevant local authority within which the child resides is responsible for providing the support, but if the school has converted to an academy they lose further control regarding how the child is being educated. It will be very interesting to see if academies start to be more robust in their attitude to their local authority in terms of a child's special needs and the support that child may require.If you have concerns regarding the implications or the education reforms or if you represent a school wishing to convert then please do contact our specialist education law solicitors for further advice on 02920 291704.