Haringey follow Camden and set up an education commission after schools crisis

An education commission is being launched by Haringey Council in the wake of the government’s contentious bid to force four primaries to become academies.

In a highly unusual move, council leader Claire Kober has written to every parent in the borough in a bid to calm growing anxiety over Education Secretary Michael Gove’s interventions.

The decision to set up the panel is part inspired by Camden’s education commission, and comes just weeks after Camden confirmed it is ploughing �2million into improving its schools.

Cllr Claire Kober said: “It has been an anxious time for parents. I think the manner in which the Secretary of State dealt with our schools is unfortunate.

“I don’t think forcing any school to become an academy is the right way to go about achieving an outcome. You should work with communities.

“But the priority for the local authority has got to be that pupils aren’t disrupted.”

The council has come under the spotlight after four of its underperforming schools – Downhills, Coleraine Park, Noel Park and Nightingale – have come under heavy pressure to become academies.

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Parents at Downhills held protests against the move. Meanwhile, Coleraine has announced it has found a academy sponsor and Nightingale has appointed a new governing body, paving the way for them to leave local authority control.

The panel will be staffed by independent experts who will volunteer their time and, unlike the Camden commission, is unlikely to attract a large budget.

Cllr Kober added: “Legislative changes means that the role of the local authority has changed.

“The question is, in a changed educational landscape, how do we, as a local authority, interact with our schools.

“We will appoint people who are independent of the borough but who understand our context.”

Camden Council leader Nash Ali said he expected more town halls to set up their own commissions as they grapple with how they fit into the new education landscape of academies, free schools and comprehensives.

He said: “You know when you set up a commission you will be face with challenges at the end of it in terms of its recommendations. You have to make the best of those challenges.”