A DECISION to let private companies provide services in schools has been called in by the county opposition group.
Plans for IT, financial, property and human resources within schools to be offered to businesses had been agreed by Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet but will now be put on hold while the overview and scrutiny performance board reviews the decision.
Labour leader Coun Peter McDonald (pictured) said the move would be detrimental to children’s education and up to 400 jobs could be at stake – a claim rejected by Coun John Campion, responsible for commissioning, as ‘inaccurate and overstated’.
Coun McDonald told the Observer: “We feel the county is rushing in to removing services to schools and will not make a considered decision in six weeks, as there are over 200 schools to be contacted as well as the unions and governors.
“This is such a serious issue we cannot let this be railroaded through as the Tories wish.
“Such haste demonstrates this is being driven by ideology as there can be no savings as the monies for the services comes indirectly from the Government. So this exercise is flawed.”
Coun Campion said schools in Worcestershire already had the freedom to choose where they got their business support services from.
“Their views will be very important to us in order to fully understand the opportunities and risks of a commissioning approach.
“Our focus remains to support schools to provide quality education.
“Therefore Coun McDonald’s claim that the quality of education delivered by schools will be affected is simple scaremongering with no real evidence.”
On the issue of jobs, he said the aim was to consult widely and it would be inappropriate for the council to speculate on outcomes or numbers in advance of discussions with schools, the trade unions and staff.
He added he welcomed the involvement of overview and scrutiny and remained committed to being transparent with schools and other stakeholders.