A POULTON school has become the first on the Fylde coast to sign up to the Government’s controversial academy programme.
Hodgson High School took on the new status this week which frees them from local authority control.
The Moorland Road school is still state maintained, but runs independently giving them freedom to set their own curriculum, determine staff pay and conditions and buy in services.
But the academy scheme has been slammed by teaching unions who say it will lead to a “two tier system of education” and breed a culture of extra competitiveness between schools.
Hodgson staff and Unions reps handed out leaflets outside the school gates to show their opposition to the scheme in September, but after consultation, the plan went ahead.
Headteacher Tony Nicholson said the change was a “significant event” in Hodgson’s history.
He added: “We look forward to a new and exciting phase in our development as an outstanding provider of education. In many ways we will continue business as usual.
“Our daily experiences will remain focused on the very best teaching and learning. However, we will have greater freedoms to make decisions wholly in the best interests of our Hodgson family.”
Locally, the only other school currently operating as an academy on the Fylde coast is Hambleton Primary.
Staff at Garstang High went on strike for a day last month as staff and governors began consultation.
Westcliff Primary School in Bispham will also consult with the local community. According to figures from the Department for Education, there are now 629 academies nationwide.
But unions have expressed their concern at the change. Ken Cridland, Lancashire National Union of Teachers, said: “This is a sad development for education. £5.2m has been taken away from the rest of the schools in Lancashire to pay for Hodgson to become an academy, this is not fair.”