Academy move ‘is in pupils’ best interests’

AGAINST MOVE ... Coun Joan Atkinson wants talks to be held over Cleadon Village C of E Primary School's bid for academy status.
AGAINST MOVE ... Coun Joan Atkinson wants talks to be held over Cleadon Village C of E Primary School's bid for academy status.

GOVERNORS at a South Tyneside school bidding for academy status say the move is in the best interest of its pupils.

Cleadon Village C of E Primary School, in Boldon Lane, Cleadon, is seeking to opt out of local authority control.

Chairman of governors, Paul Bowens, said the decision was made after “a lengthy period of consultation of the pros and cons” of academy status.

Academies are publicly-funded independent schools. They receive their money direct from the Government, so have more control over their budgets.

They don’t have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times, but still have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools.

Mr Bowens said: “The primary drivers for this proposed change are greater autonomy to ensure the curriculum is suited to the needs of our children, increased flexibility in strategic planning and to ensure we give our pupils the best education possible.

“Cleadon Village C of E Primary School is an excellent school and the main aim of the governing body is to maintain and build on the current standards.

“The school does not anticipate this change of status will have any impact on the current good working relationships it has with other schools within South Tyneside, the local authority and the diocese.”

Since the coalition Government’s academy policy was introduced in the summer of 2010, five borough schools have converted to academies. They are Whitburn C of E Academy, Monkton Junior and Infant Schools and Ridgeway Primary School, all South Shields, and St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Hebburn.

Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, in Brockley Avenue, South Shields, is also seeking academy status.

Councillors expressed concerns about the plans when they were announced at a meeting of the People Select Committee, at South Tyneside Council earlier this month.

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families and a Labour councillor for Cleadon and East Boldon, issued a plea for schools to stay in the local authority “family”.

She said: “I would welcome open and honest discussions with schools thinking about going the academy route.”

Coun Margaret Meling, who also represents Cleadon and East Boldon for Labour, intends to campaign against the latest academy bids.

However, Coun Jeff Milburn, Conservative councillor for the ward, is supportive of Cleadon Village primary school’s bid, describing it as “a very positive move”.

The school will now enter a period of consultation with parents.

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