England & Wales

Strengthening the role of councils and councillors in the local school system


The local authority role in the schools system has been greatly diminished. With more and more schools set to become Academies and a strong drive to rapidly increase the number of state funded free schools outside local authority control, what role is left for local government?

Research carried out by the LGIU in 2012 (Should we shed the Middle tier?) posed the longer term issue  of a highly centralised education system with up to 24,000 schools and governing bodies accountable solely to the Secretary of State. Making the case for a local government role the LGIU research identified five possible functions for ‘middle tier’ local government: accountability; admissions; school improvement; school place planning and capital allocation. The introduction of Ofsted’s revised inspection framework puts responsibility for school improvement firmly back in the hands of local authorities.

This seminar discusses practical ways (including case studies) in which local authorities and elected members (including District Councils in two tier areas) can strengthen their role in the local school system; enhance the accountability of schools outside local authority control and meet new requirements around school performance.


09:30 Registration and refreshments

10:00 Welcome and Introduction

10:10 The emerging landscape – Local Authority powers, changing education provision; the Ofsted Agenda and responses by local councils; John Fowler, Policy Manager, LGiU (Children Services Network)

11.00 Case studies: Three local authorities describing their approach to working with and shaping the schools system in their area; Councillor Angela Mason, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, London Borough of Camden; Councillor David Kershaw CBE, Cabinet Member for Education, Coventry City Council

11:35 Refreshments

11:50 Case studies continued

13: 00 Lunch

13: 40 The scrutiny councillor: calling schools to account; Ann Reeder, Frontline Consulting

14:25 The activist Councillor: engaging with local schools; Councillor Alan Waters, Norwich City Council.

15:00 Plenary – what can councils and councillors do to strengthen their role in the local schools system?

15.15 Close

*This programme was correct at the time of publication but may be altered to reflect speaker changes that are beyond our control.


John Fowler, Policy Manager, LGiU (Children Services Network)

Ann Reeder, Frontline Consulting

Cllr Alan Waters, Norwich City Council and Learning and Development Manager, LGiU

Who should attend?

Elected members – mainly but not exclusively for local authorities with education responsibilities

Local authority officers with responsibilities within the local school system