Mayor Sir Robin Wales is concerned about removing control of schools from council

PUBLISHED: 09:59 23 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:59 23 March 2016

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The last decade has seen a transformation in the performance of London schools. Deprived students in the capital are almost twice as likely to get five or more A-C grades at GCSE than in the rest of England.

Ofsted chief inspector Michael Wilshaw has praised the role played by councils like Newham in championing this success.

But proposals launched recently show government’s contempt for the aspirations of London’s poorest children.

It argues that a new national funding formula is necessary to even out disparities in the system. But schools are not being told how much they will lose until after the mayoral elections due to political game-playing.

Alongside funding reductions, the government has announced plans in the budget to introduce the academisation of all schools by 2020, completely removing the council’s role. The leadership of local authorities like Newham has been instrumental in improving our schools.

Innovative, evidence-based programmes such as Newham’s reading guarantee, in which we fund one-to-one support for pupils who have fallen behind, are a key part of the success story in London. Our schools will be worse off if councils are frozen out as part of an ideological drive to centralise power in Whitehall.

The new funding formula follows a campaign by the F40 group, local authorities largely from affluent shire counties. Their plans would see 23 London boroughs and the City of London lose more than £284million in schools funding. Newham would lose £30m, while the 30 least deprived areas in England would receive a £200m windfall.

Ministers and officials have held several exclusive meetings with F40. In September, a senior official promised to share “emerging proposals” “in confidence”. This meeting’s minutes were quickly amended after Newham Council complained – any suggestion that F40 have been offered privileged access is deeply disturbing considering the potentially catastrophic impact.

The turnaround in London schools has radically changed the life chances of the country’s most deprived children. These achievements are under attack. Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, it is vital all candidates stand up for the capital’s children, demanding assurances their schools will not be subjected to savage cuts. More from Sir Robin

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