School to quiz parents on change

Cherry Ridgway, headteacher of Collegiate High School.
Cherry Ridgway, headteacher of Collegiate High School.
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ONE of Blackpool’s biggest high schools is consulting with parents as it decides whether or not to sign up to the Government’s controversial academy scheme.

Cherry Ridgway, headteacher says Collegiate High School has embarked on a “fact-finding” exercise to find the best way forward as it looks at the option to move out of local council control.

The Government says schools converting to academy status are released from local authority constraints and have more freedom over finances, curriculum and staff pay and conditions.

But local teaching unions have slammed the scheme and described coalition pressure to convert as “an attack on the family of Blackpool schools”.

They say academies “fragment the education service, drain resources from other schools and open the door to takeovers by private companies”.

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Under-performing schools can be forced to convert to academy status but Mrs Ridgway today reassured the school community that was not the case at the Blackpool Old Road school.

She said: “The governors have decided to enter consultation and see if converting is the right way forward for us.

“We are looking at the financial benefits and extra freedoms it would afford but want to gauge the opinions of staff, parents and students.

“Some people think the Government is forcing us down the academy route, that is simply not the case.

“Our vastly improved exam results and Ofsted reports take us out of this bracket, the choice is ours to make.

“We’re very keen to stress we would maintain pay and conditions for all staff if we were to convert, but no decision has been made.”

So far in Blackpool only Montgomery High School and Westcliff Primary School have converted although other schools are understood to have shown interest in the scheme.

Felicity Greeves, chairman of governors at Collegiate, added: “We are consulting and considering academy status in some detail.

“It is important governors inform themselves of options and any educational changes. We have started this process.”

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