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George Osborne’s Budget pledge to force every school to convert to academy welcomed by Samuel Ward Academy Trust

23:07 16 March 2016

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside 11 Downing Street, London. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside 11 Downing Street, London. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

The chief executive of an academy trust in Suffolk welcomed George Osborne’s pledge to force every school to convert into an academy by 2022.

The chancellor yesterday confirmed the widely trailed announcement that every school will be expected to be on track to become academies by 2022.

It will end local-authority control of schools in England, a system which has been in place since 1902.

A new fund will also allow schools to lengthen their days.

Howard Lay, chief executive of the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, said: “Local authorities no longer have the capacity or resources to support schools over a wide geographical area like Suffolk.

“Instead, they have a new job – to commission schools, quality assure trusts and act as champions for parents.

“Forming the Samuel Ward Academy Trust has enabled us to develop and implement our own vision in relation the beliefs and values of each individual school.

“We currently have eight schools across west Suffolk and we all work together to support and challenge each other and reflect their own local community values.

“This is not about local authorities or multi-academy trusts, it is about creating a new partnership between both for the benefit of all children.

“I cannot comment for the rest of the country, but in our case creating the Samuel Ward Academy Trust has been an overwhelming success.”

Samuel Ward Academy Trust currently comprises of Samuel Ward Academy, Churchill School, Coupals Primary Academy, Westfield Primary Academy, all in Haverhill, as well as Glemsford Primary Academy, Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard, Newmarket Academy and the soon-to-be-opened Sybil Andrews Academy in Bury St Edmunds.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “Fundamentally, what makes the greatest difference to children’s attainment in any school is the quality of the leadership, governance and the teaching. There are schools that are outstanding in all these respects across Suffolk – some are maintained and some are academies.

“We fully support the premise that school leaders should have the freedom and flexibility to manage standards together, learning from each other and supporting the sharing of best practice.

“Each school in Suffolk is individual in its character, leadership and the community it serves, there is no one single approach that meets the needs of all.

“In terms of conversion it will be for the Governing Body of each school to determine the best timing , in the interests of providing their children with the best quality of education.

“We look forward to the White Paper and will work with schools across the county to refine and adapt our respective roles within the new framework.”

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