School rejects academy plan

LEAVING: Cherry Ridgway, headteacher of Collegiate
LEAVING: Cherry Ridgway, headteacher of Collegiate
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UNION leaders have welcomed news a Blackpool high school will not become an academy after branding the proposal “ill thought out”.

Governors at Collegiate announced they will not be pursuing the change following a period of consultation with staff and parents.

The Government’s academy scheme allows schools to break away from local authority control meaning they have greater freedom in terms of curriculum, finance and staff pay and conditions.

But local teaching union leaders have been vocal in their opposition to it describing it as an “attack on the Blackpool family of schools”.

They say it will fragment the authority and lead to an air of competitiveness between schools. And today, John Girdley, Lancashire rep for the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said: “I welcome the stance taken by the governors of Collegiate not to pursue academy status.

“Our members are much better served as members of a local authority school.

“It was very clear NASUWT members were extremely opposed to the plans and any move towards academy status would have almost certainly lead to industrial unrest.

“We will continue to monitor the situation, and trust that this ill-thought out proposal does not reappear in the future.”

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Blackpool schools have bucked the national trend by being slow to convert to academy status.

So far only Montgomery High School and Westcliffe Primary in Bispham have made the change but other such as Waterloo, Roseacre, Hawes Side Primary are also consulting.

Cherry Ridgway, headteacher of the Blackpool Old Road will leave at the end of the summer term after two years. But a change in the school’s status is not on the cards at this stage.

A spokesman for the Collegiate governors said: “Governors met to consider whether to progress further with their consultation and exploration of whether to become an academy.

“We are delighted with the exceptional progress the school has made over the last 20 months and pleased this has been recognised by Ofsted, National Challenge Advisors and the local authority.

“After careful consideration of the comments from all key stakeholders governors have decided they do not wish to proceed any further with a move towards Academy status.

“Governors may revisit this consultation at a later date.”

Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, warned schools to think carefully about the implications of making the change saying it will take resources available to help schools in need away from the authority.

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