We thought you would find two news stories from the LGA this week helpful. They are in the names of our group spokespeople on these subjects but feel free to localise them with your names. If you are planning to submit a motion on fixed odds betting terminals then you may also want to refer to that in any press release.
NEW FIGURES REVEAL COUNCIL MAINTAINED SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO OUTPERFORM ACADEMIES
Following the new analysis published today by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows that local authority maintained schools continue to perform more highly in Ofsted inspections than academies, LGA Lib Dem Education Spokesperson Cllr Liz Green is calling on the Government to withdraw plans to force all schools to become academies by 2022.
86 per cent of council maintained schools are now rated “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted, compared to 82 per cent of academies and 79 per cent of free schools.
- 58 per cent of sponsored academies – those which converted due to poor performance – are now rated as “good” or “outstanding”.
- 88 per cent of converter academies – generally those which were already high performing while still council-maintained before choosing to become academies – are rated as “good” or “outstanding”.
Analysis of the grades achieved by all schools under only the current, more rigorous, Ofsted inspection framework – launched in September 2012 – shows that 81 per cent of council-maintained schools are rated as “good” or “outstanding”, compared to 73 per cent of academies and 79 per cent of free schools.
Ofsted figures also show that “inadequate” council-maintained schools are more likely to improve if they stay with their local authority, rather than being forced to convert to an academy. 98% of council-maintained schools improved in their first Ofsted inspection after being rated “inadequate” compared to 88% of academies.
The Department for Education’s own figures already show that only 15 per cent of the largest Multi-Academy Trusts perform above the national average on added value measures, compared to 44 per cent of local authorities. Councils have also raised serious concerns about the recruitment of enough high-quality sponsors to take on 15,600 new academies over the next six years.
Councillor Liz Green said:
“It is very clear from the figures that council maintained schools have an excellent track record, and it proves that they are outperforming academies. There is still time for the government to listen to the mounting voices of opposition. Now there is talk that academy chains could operate under local authority control but there is no clear idea of how this would work and it then renders the whole academisation idea meaningless.
“The last thing that hard pressed teachers and schools need is for money to be spent on academisation when it does nothing to improve things. Lets use this money instead on direct support for our pupils, teachers and schools”.
Notes for Editors
1) The research was commissioned by the LGA and carried out by Angel Solutions, the authors of the inspection report database Watchsted. A copy of the full report is available on request.
2) 14,326 (85.4 per cent) of primary schools are council-maintained, 757 (4.5 per cent) sponsored academies, 1590 (9.5 per cent) converter academies and 93 (0.6 per cent) free schools.
1306 (38.6 per cent) of secondary schools are council-maintained, 531 (15.7 per cent) sponsored academies, 1362 (40.3 per cent) convertor academies and 182 (5.4 per cent) free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools.
Statistics about schools and their characteristics are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2015
3) The largest academy chains are the 20 chains with 5 or more schools with a year 11, as identified by the Department for Education at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-in-academy-chains-and-las-performance-measures (main table, figure 8.1)
MAXIMUM STAKES ON FIXED ODDS BETTING MACHINES NEED REDUCING, COUNCILS URGE
Government should take action to reduce the maximum stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Machines (FOBTs) to lower the risk of harm caused by playing on the gaming machines, on which players can lose £300 a minute, Cllr Mike Bell, Lib Dem Spokesperson on Culture, Tourism and Sport is saying.
The Local Government, Association (LGA) is calling for a government review into gaming machine stakes to be launched immediately, and for new powers for councils to address the saturation of betting shops across their communities.
There are already more than 34,000 FOBT machines in the UK where players can stake £100 in a single ‘spin’ lasting 20 seconds – and can lose up to £18,000 an hour. But councils have no powers to restrict their proliferation on high streets and reduce the risk of harm they pose to people vulnerable to problem gambling.
Figures show nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of problem gamblers in the UK have reported debts of between £20,000 and £100,000, with counselling sessions increasing by 29 per cent between 2013/13 and 2014/15.
The LGA, which represents English councils, is calling for:
- The current £100 maximum FOBT stake to be brought in line with maximum stakes for other gaming machines allowed elsewhere on high streets (£2) and in casinos (£5)
- Cumulative impact tests to be introduced to enable councils to reject applications for new betting shops where there are already existing clusters of shops
- Licensing laws to be updated to allow councils to take health issues associated with problem gambling and anti-social behaviour concerns into account when considering applications.
The triennial review of gaming machine stakes is now due – the last was held in January 2013 – and political pressure to tackle the issue is growing.
A new poll showed more than two-thirds of MPs (72 per cent) want tougher regulations of FOBTs. Nearly 100 councils have also backed a Sustainable Communities Act proposal submitted by Newham Council to government to reduce maximum stakes from £100 to £2. The Government rejected the proposal but is re-considering it after an appeal was lodged.
Cllr Mike Bell said:
“Councils up and down the country are worried about the number of high stakes FOBTs and betting shops on our high streets, and are frustrated by the lack of powers they have to curb them.
“The higher stakes permitted on FOBTs is significantly out of line with other high street gambling machines and the harm and anti-social behaviour they can cause has become an issue of growing national concern.
“Someone playing on a machine can lose £100 in a matter of seconds in a single play on an FOBT. This is money many people can’t afford to lose and needs to be looked at again.
“A triennial review of machine stakes is overdue, and with two-thirds of MPs calling for tougher regulation of FOBTs, we urge the Government to honour its previous commitment and launch a review of stakes at the earliest opportunity.
“Bringing stakes in line with other gaming machines in betting shops and elsewhere on high streets and casinos, would help to protect those at risk from problem gambling, and would be an important a step in the right direction.
“Councils are not anti-bookies but a new cumulative impact test would give them the power to veto new shops – and FOBTs – in areas already saturated by betting shops.”
Draft motion on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals:
This council notes calls for a government review into gaming machine stakes to be launched immediately, and supports new powers for councils to address the saturation of betting shops.
In particular it notes :
– the 34,000 Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTS) machines in the UK where players can stake £100 in a single ‘spin’ lasting 20 seconds – and can lose up to £18,000 an hour.
– that councils have no powers to restrict their proliferation on high streets and reduce the risk of harm they pose to people vulnerable to problem gambling.
– that figures show nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of problem gamblers in the UK have reported debts of between £20,000 and £100,000, with counselling sessions increasing by 29 per cent between 2013/13 and 2014/15.
This council calls for:
- The current £100 maximum FOBT stake to be brought in line with maximum stakes for other gaming machines allowed elsewhere on high streets (£2) and in casinos (£5);
- Cumulative impact tests to be introduced to enable councils to reject applications for new betting shops where there are already existing clusters of shops;
- Licensing lawto be updated to allow councils to take health issues associated with problem gambling and anti-social behaviour concerns into account when considering applications.
- For the Leader and Chief Executive to write to our local MP[s] calling for an urgent review and new powers so [NAME] of council can do more to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community.