Great Cornard: Thomas Gainsborough school puts in bid to join forces with Newmarket Academy as part of Samuel Ward Academy hub

Headteacher Wayne Lloyd

Headteacher Wayne Lloyd

Just days after education chiefs in Suffolk faced a vote of no confidence from more than 100 schools in the county, another secondary school has announced its intentions to opt out of local authority control.

Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard has applied to become an academy as part of the successful Samuel Ward Multi Academy Trust from January.

Secretary of state for education, Nicky Morgan, is understood to have backed the move in principle which would see the Cornard senior school join Samuel Ward Academy, Newmarket Academy and a growing number of primary schools in the trust partnership.

Last night, the trust’s chief executive, Howard Lay, said adding Thomas Gainsborough to the group was a “key part” of a vision to create three hubs of self-sustaining schools in west Suffolk.

He said: “The local authority in reality, because of its size and the number of schools in Suffolk, no longer has the capacity to run education across the whole of the county.

“It should be about commissioning and challenging schools not running them.

Last night Suffolk County Council declined to comment on the school’s proposal.

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But when Thomas Gainsborough School joins our trust, there will be three self-sustaining secondary schools in the group, working very tightly together to challenge and support each other.

“Within the hubs, there will also be primary schools and because of the number of schools in the trust, we will be able to increase capacity because we can reduce costs.

“We can secure services such as grounds maintenance, catering or support services at a cheaper cost because of economies of scale and we can put that money back into teaching and learning.”

Funded by the Government’s £2.4billion priority school building programme, work recently started on a multi-million pound scheme to create a new four-storey school complex at the Thomas Gainsborough site to replace the current 1970s building.

According to headteacher Wayne Lloyd, the move to becoming an academy is the “logical next step”.

He said: “The board of governors has taken the decision to join this outstanding group of schools because it is the right way to take our school forward in the future.

“We will not be changing the name and the uniform will remain the same, so in terms of everyday procedures and policies and from the perspective of the parents and students, things will not change.

“But becoming part of this trust will enable us to make decisions at local level and we will be able to set our own agenda to ensure teaching and learning is developed in the right way.”

The county council declined to comment on the application.

The consultation period closes on November 13. Comments can be made via the school’s website