Education boss's hopes for city academy

THE head of education in Essex has outlined her vision for pupils in Colchester, revealing she has high hopes a city academy will help to transform children's futures.

THE head of education in Essex has outlined her vision for pupils in Colchester, revealing she has high hopes a city academy will help to transform children's futures.

It emerged last month that two struggling schools in the town - Thomas Lord Audley (TLA) and Alderman Blaxill - could be replaced with a city academy which would see millions injected into new buildings and education provision.

Both schools are currently in special measures - meaning Essex County Council is given extra powers such as control of budgets or altering the governing body.

In an exclusive interview with the EADT, Tracey Chapman acknowledged for the first time her preferred option for the future would be an academy, rather than saving the existing schools.

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But she said children's education and welfare would be paramount in any changes that take place.

The council has already said an academy would be likely to be built on the existing TLA site.

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A consultation on the proposal is due to begin this autumn, with parents and pupils being given a chance to shape their future.

If the academy gets the green-light, the Government could release £20million of funding for the buildings, with more investment coming from a sponsor, which could be a wealthy individual or local company.

At this stage talks have yet to start with potential sponsors, but the council has said it does not think it will have a problem finding a suitable candidate.

Mrs Chapman said it was vital that if the change does get the go-ahead, that pupils within the system were fully supported.

She said: “I am really hoping that the academy is a prospect the people of Colchester will embrace.

“A great deal of money will be pumped into the area and rise the aspirations and expectations of children, because at the bottom of all this has to be the children. I will support them through this process as it could be a difficult time for everyone.”

She said the academy would be a key part of the local community with opportunities for people to use the building in the evening and at weekends.

The council said an academy would help to generate more employable youngsters, working with the local community and council rather than working totally independently.

Carey Bennet, head of the schools, children and families directorate at the council, said the successful example of the city academy in Basildon could be repeated in Colchester.

The public consultation on the closure of Alderman Blaxill and TLA will begin in the autumn.

The first option will be the new city academy, but the council has yet to finalise details of the alternative choices.

Parents and pupils will be able to e-mail, write or come to public meetings to discuss any concerns they have.

Headteacher at Alderman Blaxill, Faith Spinlove, has said she hopes to save the school and wants more time to implement changes at a school which has a high percentage of children with special needs.

No-one from TLA was available for comment.

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