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5.37 We want local authorities to continue to play a key role as champions for pupils and parents. The transparent publication of a great deal more school-level data for every school will enable local people to ring the alarm bell where concerns appear. Local authorities will continue both to challenge schools which are causing concern and to focus on issues needing attention which cut across more than one school. Alongside the key role of the Lead Member for Children and the Director of Children’s Services, other councillors may be engaged through the scrutiny function, for example, focusing on a particular issue of concern or inviting the head teacher and/or governors to attend a scrutiny committee to listen to concerns and to respond.
5.38 As champions for excellence, local authorities will be expected to take action if there are concerns about the performance of any school in the area, and use their intervention powers to act early and effectively to secure improvement in maintained schools. While local authorities have no direct intervention powers in Academies and Free Schools, where they have concerns, their role would be to raise them directly with the school for informal resolution. However, where a local authority has significant concerns about an Academy or Free School and feels that these are not being adequately addressed by local action, it will be able to ask Ofsted to inspect the school. Ofsted would then make a judgement about whether or not an inspection was necessary. As a last resort, local authorities will, as now, be able to escalate concerns to the Secretary of State, so that appropriate action can be taken to address issues.
5.39 Local authorities will, over time, also play a role in commissioning new provision and overseeing the transition of failing schools to new management. We will consult with local authorities and Academy sponsors on what role local authorities should play as strategic commissioners when all schools in an area have become Academies.
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