Labour commits to ending free schools programme, announces Angela Rayner

Ashley Cowburn
Ms Rayner will describe the academy system as ‘not fit for purpose’: PA

Angela Rayner is to commit Labour to axing the free school programme and rein in academisation in a keynote speech to the party’s annual conference.

Addressing delegates gathered in Liverpool, the shadow education secretary will describe the current academy system as “not fit for purpose” and brand the free school programme “inefficient”.

The new policy will form part of Labour’s plan for a National Education Service, which Ms Rayner is expected to set out in more detail at the conference.

“Labour will end the forced conversion of local schools to academies, scrap the inefficient free school programme and instead focus on delivering what works to get the best result for pupils,” she is expected to tell the party faithful.

“The Tories have thrown money at an academy and free school programme that is not improving outcomes for pupils, even while individual schools have their budgets cuts year after year.

“We now routinely see the shocking sight of schools begging parents for financial support just to carry out day to day functions.”

Ms Rayner will also hit out at the “fat cat” salaries of some executives at large academy chains, and said local communities have been shut out of decisions affecting schools in their area.

“For too long, parents and local communities have been shut out of decisions affecting schools in their area. The next Labour government will give power back to communities so that our schools are run by the people who know them best – parents, teachers and local communities,” she will add.

Labour will also allow local authorities to step in where academy chains fail to put a stop to so-called “zombie” schools – academies waiting to be transferred to another chain or sponsor after the trust originally managing them has stopped.

Figures released to Ms Rayner by education minister Nadhim Zahawi showed there were 124 “zombie” academies in July – up from 64 in December.

Ms Rayner will say: “The Tories’ fragmentation and school system has created zombie schools – caught between academy chains who are under no obligation to take them on and a government that simply washes its hands of the problem, refusing to step in and take responsibility.”