Blackpool schools talk of academies

Graeme Dow headteacher at Anchorsholme Primary School.
Graeme Dow headteacher at Anchorsholme Primary School.
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UNION chiefs today demanded greater consultation after it was revealed three Blackpool schools are looking into becoming academies.

Under the proposals Devonshire Primary, Anchorsholme Primary and Park Special School could come out from local authority control.

The Governing bodies of Devonshire, on Devonshire Road, and Anchorsholme Primary School, on Eastpines Drive, both deemed to be performing well in recent OFSTED inspections, have been looking into becoming a joint Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) along with Park Special School, on Whitegate Drive, which was last judged ‘outstanding’.

If proposals are passed the MAT would come in from April next year.

Graeme Dow, headteacher of Anchorsholme Primary School, said: “Across the country there’s been encouragement from the Government for governors to at least consider becoming an academy, and that’s what we’re doing.”

An academy is a school run by governors and staff, rather than by the local authority. The new body has more say on the curriculum delivered and the staffing model as it gets funds
 direct from Government.

In a Blackpool MAT the three schools would remain distinct and keep to their own budgets but would work together, sharing a Trust Board made up of governors from all schools.

Under the Government Academies Programme all schools will become academies, therefore the Blackpool trio of schools agree “doing nothing is not an option”.

The schools have said it is better to plan their own change than have it imposed by the Department for Education.

Neil Hodgkins, headteacher of Devonshire Primary School, said: “We’re excited about this idea of working together.

“We’ve all got different areas of expertise, this could be a really strong partnership for Blackpool schools.”

But unions are calling for a 
consultation period with parents, carers, teachers and staff to be extended to allow them to carefully consider the possible change.

Peter Marsden, Unison representative for Blackpool, said: “We call on the governing bodies of the schools to seriously consider the implications of becoming an academy as theirs is a critical decision. Unison is requesting the school governors extend the consultation period as they should be willing to listen in a meaningful way to both sides of the debate.”

The union is calling for the consultation period, which began on November 12 and is due to end this Friday, to be extended to the New Year.

In total six meetings have been held over the consultation period.

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