West Suffolk school becomes academy

A NEW era has begun for a west Suffolk school after it became the first in the area to achieve academy status.

Samuel Ward Arts and Technology College in Haverhill is now Samuel Ward Academy, which means it will be funded and maintained directly by the Government rather than Suffolk County Council.

The school was given the official go-ahead to become an academy by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, on November 1.

The status - awarded following consistently high achievements - gives Samuel Ward ownership of its land and assets, freedom from the national curriculum, greater flexibility in admissions and staff employment, as well as about �250,000 extra a year.

Headteacher Howard Lay said it was a “really exciting” time for the school, which is being rebranded, with new logo, sign and uniform.

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He said: “This is a fantastic achievement for a highly aspirational and successful school.

“It means that we will be able to sustain our high outcomes, positive ethos and further develop the school brand at a time when the economy is contracting.

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“As an international school we have strong links with China, India and Germany which give so many opportunities to our young people.

“Academy status will enable us to strengthen these links.”

This achievement comes just after work began at the school site for a �3.5m-building to accommodate up to 400 new year seven and eight students.

The county council’s School Organisation Review will see the year groups join the school for the first time next year.

The state-of-the-art building, designed by Pick Everard, will have flexible spaces to support small tutor groupings of up to 14 students, and facilities will include its own dining area.

Mr Lay said: “It supports our philosophy that pupils learn best in small groups with access to specialist facilities.

“It will enable pupils to begin GCSE examinations in year nine so that they have three years to achieve the highest grades and also begin A-level courses in year 11 if they are ready.”

The building is due to be ready by the end of May so the new students can join the school in June.

Graham Newman, cabinet member for children, schools, and young people’s services at the county council, said Samuel Ward was a “very good” school, which would go from “strength to strength”.

He said: “For some time schools have been much more independent from the county council for a variety of things, for example becoming foundation trusts, and really becoming an academy is one step after that.

“And really it puts all the responsibility with the local school, local community and local governing body and we are very supportive of that.”

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