By Claire Wesr

Some of the many differences between academies, free schools and other publicly funded schools need to be removed to show the education system is as fair as possible, councillors will be told today.

On the first day of the National Children and Adult’s Conference in Manchester, the Local Government Association is setting out the importance of a schools system which is fair, and can clearly be seen to be fair.

Speaking at a session debating the future role of local government in education Baroness Shireen Ritchie, who chairs the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, is expected to set out four tests for the Education White Paper to meet to demonstrate it is fair to all. These are:

The same freedoms for all schools from top-down control and bureaucracy An admissions process which treats all schools in the same way The same funding opportunities must be available to all schools The needs of a school’s most vulnerable pupils must be addressed, with appropriate levels of funding.Baroness Ritchie said:

“Councils’ key priority is that all children have access to a good quality school, whether they are being taught in an academy or a school funded more traditionally, and that will mean making sure money is fairly distributed and the same opportunities are available to all. Councils have long been working to give families and children more say over how and where they are educated, and school choice is something councils support.

“Reassuring parents that their children are being treated fairly depends on having an education system where the schools themselves are also on a level playing field. If it is beneficial for a free school to have more of a say over its curriculum or term structure, then surely a community school would benefit as well.

“Allowing a school system to develop where there is one set of rules for some and different rules for others risks creating a divide at the heart of the education system. Councils, as the body best placed to oversee the schools in a local area, want to make sure the principle of fairness for all is embedded from the word go. “