“Councils are bidding for powers to require academies to admit challenging and difficult children, who might have been excluded from other schools.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide all children in their area with a school place, yet currently only have powers to direct maintained schools to take so-called ‘hard to place’ children.
If a council deems an academy as the best setting for a particular child, they have to apply to the Education Funding Agency, which makes the final decision. However, according to government statistics cited by the Local Government Association, only 15 out of 121 students put forward to the EFA for an academy placement have been accepted.
“By ignoring local council advice the EFA is allowing academies to effectively choose the children they want to admit,” said Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board.
“There are far stronger safeguards in place to ensure maintained schools do not cherry pick their pupils and the same measures should be in place for all academies.”
Decisions about where individual children are educated should be made in the best interests of the child, not to protect favoured schools, he added.
“It is now vital that councils are urgently given the powers to take these decisions locally, based on their local knowledge of the children, families and schools involved,” Watts said.”