Hackney Council has announced plans to create a Schools Group that it says will give teachers and residents more power over education in the borough.
The Hackney Schools Group will be an independent body led by schools but maintained by and accountable to the council.
The Town Hall says it will provide the borough’s schools with more financial security and enable them to work with the council to “promote continued improvement for all of our pupils”.
The Group would be a legal entity with its own board, but individual schools would retain their own governing bodies and autonomy.
Deputy Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, said: “I’m pleased to be able to share these initial proposals, which we think offer an exciting opportunity for our schools to formalise their working relationship and continue to improve outcomes for every child in the borough.
“We want to find a way to maintain the continued improvement of educational performance and pupil outcomes, and help our schools to remain maintained and accountable to the local authority, so that we can continue to build on our success together.”
The idea, to be put before cabinet for approval on 18 December, follows the release of a report last week that revealed the results of the council’s education consultation, Hackney: Schools for Everyone.
Over 2,500 people responded to the survey, with 65 per cent opposed to school selection.
The council says the Schools Group will help tackle concerns raised through the consultation, as well as addressing feedback it receives from teachers and parents worried about forced academisation and the government’s education reforms.
Academies – independent schools funded by central government rather than their local authority – were originally introduced under Labour with the aim of improving failing schools.
But they have grown in number from 203 in 2010 to over 3,000 at present.
Former Conservative chancellor George Osbourne introduced forced academisation in 2016, but the policy was later dumped following criticism from teachers.
Hackney’s Labour-led council stated in the introduction to its consultation that it is “opposed to schools becoming academies”.
It says the new Group would help protect existing, locally maintained schools.
Cllr Bramble added: “If Cabinet approves the proposals, the council will begin an intensive engagement programme, initially with headteachers and governors, and then with residents.
“This is a fantastic opportunity, and we want schools, parents and residents to play a role in shaping this important proposal for the future of education in Hackney.”
In her report outlining the plans, Cllr Bramble wrote: “Hackney is known for being a pioneering council. We have always responded to challenges innovatively, so it is fitting that Hackney can be the first local authority to adopt this approach to enable our schools to take the next step on their improvement journey.”
You can read the full report on the proposals here