By Carl Jackson Friday 13 September 2013 Updated: 17/09 00:07
WORCESTERSHIRE County Council has been accused of abandoning schools across the county and driving them all towards academy status, after agreeing to reduce its support.
In a letter to all members, the council announced providing services such as IT, financial, property and human resources were no longer 'core business' for the authority which would now consider securing alternative providers from the private sector to serve schools.
Schools throughout the county are now being advised on the full implications of the move and the council is aiming to discuss formal recommendations at November's cabinet meeting.
Coun Peter McDonald, leader of the Labour Group, slammed the decision and said it was rail-roading schools into becoming academies.
He declared it a watershed moment which would end local democracy input in schools and place a question mark over 400 council jobs.
"The county is acting in a cavalier fashion with no concern for parents or their children," he said.
"It is forcing through its own ideology before the interest and wellbeing of those it is supposed to represent.
"When councillors were elected, one of their prime obligations and responsibilities was to the young people of Worcestershire by ensuring high standards in schools.
"This decision by the Tories has effectively privatised education.
"Governors, school staff and parents will be able to do nothing to stop their schools becoming academies, whether they agree with them or not."
The letter states the move is part of the council's Future Fit commitment in order to become an 'excellent commissioning authority'.
The council developed an overall plan for the future of all its support services in May and made the decision to de-prioritise business support for schools in July.
A council spokeswoman said no decision had been made about jobs at this stage however the letter confirmed trade unions were engaged in the ongoing discussions and affected staff were being kept informed of any developments.
Coun John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, labelled Coun McDonald's claims inaccurate because no formal decision had been made.
He added the review was not about cutting services but about changing the way in which schools received them.
Coun Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and families, said a request to starting formal consultation with schools would be tabled at the cabinet meeting on October 4.
"Our approach is consistent with the additional freedoms and responsibilities that schools now have and the role they are taking, and are expected to take, in the future," she added.
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