Academy conversions should be suspended to help overstretched councils focus on supporting schools and nurseries to stay open, the LGA has said.
The LGA is concerned that council time is having to be spent on 594 academy conversions in the pipeline, which involve the transfer of staff and assets (including land and property), and financial agreements.
This is undermining council efforts to coordinate sufficient school places for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, as well as appropriate space for emergency food and medicine supplies.
Academisation also includes a legal requirement to renegotiate contracts with suppliers, which goes against the Government’s current advice that schools continue to pay suppliers during the coronavirus crisis, and if a school has a deficit when it converts, the council will have to pick up the bill.
The LGA has raised these concerns with the Department for Education and is urging the Government to temporarily suspend this non-essential work.
Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils’ number one priority is to help keep schools open and support families in need, including those with vulnerable children on free school meals, at risk of abuse or with disabilities.
“Council staff are working flat out at reduced capacity, and taking council teams away from their primary duty of care to see through applications for academy conversions is clearly not in the interests of either councils or schools during this unprecedented time.
“We want to work with the Government to ensure that schools are given the support they need over the immediate term, and this includes urgently placing a temporary pause on academy conversions during this time.”