Fears raised over academy sponsors

Collegiate High School, where the academy would be built and (below) Coun Sarah Riding.
Collegiate High School, where the academy would be built and (below) Coun Sarah Riding.
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Union bosses have raised concerns over the two sponsors proposed to take on the running of a Blackpool academy.

The Department for Education (DfE) has put forward the names of two commercial sponsors if Collegiate High School and Bispham High School are merged.

Coun Sarah Riding

Coun Sarah Riding

It would be Blackpool’s first commercially sponsored academy, meaning governors from both schools will have two options to decide from.

The sponsors suggested by the DfE are Bright Tribe – a non-profit making trust with charitable status – and E-ACT, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 2009 to sponsor academies and free schools.

But unions say they “are neither local nor democratic” and are worried “monies will be diverted from the school’s budget to the remuneration of directors and other staff”.

A letter sent to the governing body representatives from Blackpool Unison, Blackpool NUT, the National Association of School leaders said: “[We] would like to express concerns E-ACT and Bright Tribe are neither local nor democratic and are run along market lines similar to large private companies.”

The schools’ governing bodies will meet soon to make a decision on the proposal, which would see the new academy built at the Collegiate site on Blackpool Old Road.

Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “We want a sponsor that will work with the community, take on views of parents and have a record of school improvement.

“At this stage the governing bodies have not made a decision on the merger proposal and therefore we are at a very early stage in discussions with the sponsors that the DfE has put forward.”

E-ACT says it already sponsors 29 academies and two free schools – three are in the North West – and “aspires” to work with under-performing schools in disadvantaged areas.

Bright Tribe is working with two schools in the North West, both in Workington, Cumbria, but currently is not sponsoring any academies.

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