Framlingham: School bids for academy status

A HEADTEACHER has told of his hopes to achieve academy status for a top-performing high school.

Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham – which is rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted – is to “pursue the possibility” of becoming an academy, which would give it greater freedom from the local education authority (LEA), Suffolk County Council.

Governors have passed a resolution to move to academy status and the school is now gathering opinion from parents, staff and the local community.

Academies are directly funded by central Government and free from local authority control, meaning they are able to have more control over how they spend money and who delivers their services.

Colin Hirst, the school’s headteacher, said the move was in the “early stages” and the school was effectively in a consultation process.

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“I think that, as a public sector organisation, we are going to be subject to pressures on various funding streams,” he said.

“I have a duty to do the best I can to maintain standards at the school.

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“In essence, the reason for doing this is not to change in any way the nature, atmosphere and ideals that exist at the school – quite the opposite. We want to retain all that we hold dear.”

In a letter to parents, Mr Hirst explained the LEA currently “top-sliced” 8% of the school’s budget – money which could be prioritised as an academy.

“At a time of considerable pressure on public spending, this action is the only way to try to secure the financial position of the school,” he said.

He said the move – which is still some months away from completion – would give greater flexibility in curriculum decisions and to “pursue what we do well as a school free from LEA control”.

Mr Hirst said the school – which has more than 1,400 pupils – would not change its name and would continue to be a state-funded school with the same staff and same admissions criteria and the emphasis would remain on providing “high quality teaching and learning” to all its pupils.

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