Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Powerful Schools Chief You May Never Have Heard Of

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Powerful Schools Chief You May Never Have Heard Of

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

ALITTLE-KNOWN official is responsible for more than 200 schools in the North of England - and could eventually oversee all 1,700 of them, MPs have warned. The influential Commons Education Committee said schools must become more accountable to parents and the public.

And committee member Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, has suggested returning control over education to local councils, which traditionally helped oversee schools.

The cross-party committee has published a report on the role of regional schools commissioners, who monitor free schools and acade-mies and intervene when schools are underperforming.

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The posts were created partly because of criticism that academies and free schools, which are independent from local education authorities, were accountable to nobody except the Education Secretary at Westminster. But in practice, regional schools commissioners are not accountable either - and many people don't even know who they are, MPs warned.

The regional schools commissioner for the North of England is Janet Renou, who was previously headteacher of Skipton Girls' High School in Yorkshire and took on the role in September 2014.

She is responsible for making decisions about academies and free schools in Cumbria, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, North Tyneside, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Redcar and Cleveland, South Tyneside, Stockton and Sunderland.

Before the introduction of academies, the education departments of local councils, known as education authorities, would have been responsible for overseeing local schools.

There are 116 secondary academies in Ms Renou's area and 141 primary academies. But the Government's goal is for all 1,715 schools in the region to become academies. …

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