Bury St Edmunds: Academy bid joy for at-risk Horringer and Westley schools
PUBLISHED: 08:58 09 May 2011
TWO middle schools in west Suffolk are celebrating safeguarding their own futures after a joint bid for academy status was backed by the Government.
Under Suffolk County Council’s schools organisation review, all 40 middle schools in the county would face the axe.
Faced with that threat, Horringer Court Middle and Westley Middle Schools teamed up with the County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, to lodge a joint academy bid with the Government.
Academy status would take them outside the control of the local education authority and therefore beyond the reach of the controversial schools organisation review.
Their application has now been approved by the Department for Education.
It means the three schools will convert to three separate academies working closely together under one umbrella trust.
The trust would focus on teaching and learning and work strategically to raise standards even further.
In a joint statement, the headteachers of the three schools, said: “We are thrilled because we genuinely believe in what we currently offer and this new arrangement will enable us to work together in the knowledge that the schools are secure for as long as parents support them.
“We have certainly had massive support for these proposals so far.
“Up and down the country, many of the new academies are being set up to go from age five to 18 in all through arrangements which involve three tiers as we currently have in Bury.
“They are putting in a nine-13 phase because they recognise all the advantages of a distinct unit for this age range.
“There is the specialist teaching, specialist facilities, music, sport, drama and other curricular and extra-curricular advantages which this brings from the age of nine. In terms of the pupils’ maturity, there is also the opportunity for a more gradual transition to secondary education.
“Of course, many independent schools like Eton have precisely this arrangement and we are delighted that it will still be available in Bury.
“We intend to continue to work closely with other schools and colleges for the good of all children in the area.
“There will be one final round of consultations after which the schools hope to open as academies for the start of the new academic year.”
Speaking previously about the bid, Graham Newman, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services at Suffolk County Council, said: “The local authority is working with these schools to support the continued focus on improving attainment at Key Stage 2 and 4.
“We will support schools in proposals for academy status that focus on the priority for raising attainment whilst pursuing the priority for Suffolk to move to a two-tier system.
“The move to the two-tier system will deliver the greatest improvements for Suffolk children.”