The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) has formally entered the debate around the future role of Councils in education. Filling the Gap is a call to action issued primarily to Chief Executives and Senior Managers within local government with two key aspirations:
- Firstly, to ensure that through strong local government leadership, Councils remain committed to the pursuit of educational excellence to secure the best outcomes for communities; and
- Secondly, to encourage Councils’ visible and proactive leadership in shaping the policy and implementation landscapes.
Through the paper, SOLACE seeks to contribute to the clarification of Councils’ championing role by proposing that:
- Championing the vulnerable means enabling the voice of the child and young person to be heard, and complementing this with Council’s own local brand of vigorous and proactive advocacy, speaking up for those who would otherwise not be heard.
- Championing parents and families means empowering them to support and challenge their school to improve continuously.
- Championing educational excellence means creating the environment for others to succeed.
The Paper explores a range of ideas and opportunities for Councils to fulfil these overarching championing roles but insists that it remains up to individual Councils, in partnership with their schools and communities, to work out this call to action within their local areas.
Despite this localist thrust, SOLACE acknowledges that in some specific areas local-national collaboration is necessary to prevent school autonomy unintentionally resulting in fragmentation, and to achieve consistency and sustainability in the pursuit and achievement of excellence. Filling the Gap, therefore, also calls on the Government to:
- Agree that there should be voluntary, local “cooperation and intervention” protocols between all schools and their Councils;
- Work with SOLACE, Academy Sponsors and relevant others to progress a national agreement between Government and Councils about the process of intervention in underperforming or failing schools, including Free Schools and Academies;
- Work with SOLACE to explore the feasibility of establishing a formal system for developing Governing Body Clerks as competent and recognised professional advisors.
SOLACE invites you to engage with the ideas presented in Filing the Gap and calls on Councils to promote and pursue the key elements that make most sense in their local areas.