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​£18million to be wasted converting schools’ status say Wiltshire Lib Dems

Wiltshire Council will debate whether to adopt a policy of opposing the forced conversion of its schools to academies at its meeting on 10th May.

A notice of motion put forward by Melksham councillor Jon Hubbard identifies that over £5.5million of public money has been spent to date on converting the status of schools and it will cost a further £12.5millon to force the remaining schools to change.

Cllr Jon Hubbard commented, “These changes make virtually no difference to the day-to-day running of the schools, there is no tangible impact on the quality of the teaching and no massive investment as a consequence of the change in the resources available to the schools.

“Instead we have an unbelievable amount of public money being spent on changing the legal status of perfectly good schools being run by, often, outstanding head teachers and staff who have been starved of the resources they need to run their schools better – simply because this money is being spent on lawyers and consultants to force them to convert to academies.

“The Conservative government’s power-trip approach to education, where they want to steal control of schools away from parents and local communities and put them into the hands of the Secretary of State for Education demonstrates just how wrong and corrupt this government has become.

“Our children’s education is not something to be privatised or centralised. It is something to be cherished, supported and invested in.

“In fact, if this money had been, and most of it still could be, spent in our schools rather than the Secretary of States power-grab, then we would see considerable investment in Wiltshire’s schools.

“In my own community in Melksham we have seen an estimated £690,000 wasted so far on paying for legal fees and conversion costs for removing seven local schools from the local authority to be run directly from Whitehall. £690,000 that could have been spent on improving the education of the 2,500 children who attend those schools.

“It’s time to stop this nonsense and instead spend the remaining £12.5 million still earmarked for paying to convert the remaining schools in the County on improving education, not on lawyers, consultants and ministerial power-trips.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Wiltshire Council, Glenis Ansell commented, “I absolutely support Cllr Hubbard. This is a further example of a plan that hasn’t been thought though. Once again the Conservative Government are arbitrarily taking decisions and substantial amounts of money away from local people.”