A Blackpool councillor has resigned from his position on the board of governors at a school in “protest” at its “academisation”.
Coun Martin Mitchell revealed he would leave the board of governors at Collegiate High School just 24 hours before the first Year Seven pupils started at Bispham High School yesterday, following the two schools’ merger into an academy.
The Layton ward councillor said: “I have resigned from the board of governors of Collegiate High School in protest at the academisation of the school which is joining with Bispham High.
“Earlier this year Government inspectors’ declaration of Bispham High as “failing” was widely described as politically motivated and a distortion of reality. Bispham High’s recently reported best ever exam results show that description to be totally accurate.
“My time at Collegiate has been dominated by the academy issue.”
The new academy is to be sponsored by the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT), a partnership between Hodgson Academy and Blackpool Sixth Form College.
It is also part of the Fylde Coast Teaching School Alliance, a group of high-achieving schools in the Fylde coast area.
Coun Mitchell said concern at this new direction for the school was a factor in his decision, adding: “Control has now been handed to a group without democratic standing which will decide which of the governors will remain.
“I am not and do not wish to be a compliant cipher for a group without support in the local community. I believe public education should be kept in public hands and encourage others who think the same to speak up at every opportunity.”
Parents and pupils from both schools found out in December about proposals to merge the two sites, creating a new £10m school at Collegiate.
This school year children in Years Eight to 11 at both sites will remain at their current campuses.
From January 2014 staff from both schools will be coming together as one single team.
And building work is then expected to begin on the Collegiate site by the end of 2013, to be completed by 2015.
A spokesman for Collegiate High School said: “The governing body resolved to become a merged academy with Bispham following a majority vote.
“We understand Coun Mitchell has resigned based on his individual views and we thank him for his contribution to the school.”
Coun Mitchell has been supported in his stance by council leader Simon Blackburn.
He said: “Coun Martin Mitchell has taken a very principled stand over the Collegiate and Bispham decision on academy status. I support and understand his decision.
“Labour councillors have resigned before over academies and may feel they need to do so again as I know they feel extremely strongly about this issue.”