By Tristan Harris Friday 18 October 2013 Updated: 21/10 09:46
CONTROVERSIAL proposals agreed by Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet to find alternative providers for ‘business support services’ for schools will now go before the authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
It comes after the county’s Labour Group used the ‘call-in’ procedure to halt the formal consultation period with schools. That will now be put on hold until after the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board has considered the plans further and the call-in process is completed.
The Standard reported last month about the proposals which could see services such as IT, financial, property and human resources being provided by the private sector.
Labour leader Coun Peter McDonald was scathing of the move, saying it would be detrimental to Worcestershire children’s education and up to 400 jobs could be at stake - a claim rejected by Coun John Campion as being ‘inaccurate and overstated’.
Coun McDonald told The Standard: “We feel the county is rushing in to removing services to schools and will not make a considered decision in six weeks, as there are over 200 schools to be contacted as well as the unions and governors.
“This is such a serious issue we cannot let this be railroaded through as the Tories wish.
“Such haste demonstrates this is being driven by ideology as there can be no savings as the monies for the services comes indirectly from the Government. So this exercise is flawed.”
Coun Campion, Worcestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Transformation and Commissioning, said schools in Worcestershire already had the freedom to choose where they got their business support services from.
“Their views will be very important to us in order to fully understand the opportunities and risks of a commissioning approach.
“Our focus remains to support schools to provide quality education.
“Therefore Coun McDonald’s claim that the quality of education delivered by schools will be affected is simple scaremongering with no real evidence.”
On the jobs, he said the aim was to consult widely and it would be inappropriate for the council to speculate on outcomes or numbers in advance of discussions with schools, the trade unions and staff.
He added he welcomed the involvement of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board and remained committed to being transparent with schools and other stakeholders.
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