Opinion split on academy plans for top South Shields school

A South Tyneside school's second bid to become an academy has divided opinion.
Harton Technology College academy bid.
From left Shirley Ford, Dave Herbert, Roger Nettleship and Tony BengtssonHarton Technology College academy bid.
From left Shirley Ford, Dave Herbert, Roger Nettleship and Tony Bengtsson
Harton Technology College academy bid. From left Shirley Ford, Dave Herbert, Roger Nettleship and Tony Bengtsson

Parents of students at Harton Technology College in South Shields, were informed of the plans by a text message on Friday which encouraged them visit the school’s website for more details.

In January 2015 governors ruled against making an immediate application for academy status - which would mean the school in Lisle Road, South Shields, would be run independently and removed from local authority control.

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The Green Party, along with the South Tyneside Public Service Alliance (PSA) ,have now relaunched their original petition - which was never submitted due to the original bid being pulled- in an attempt to stop the school from becoming an academy.

Green Party activist Shirley Ford has a child at the school and fought against the proposals the first time.

She said: “We fought against these proposals he last time and now it’s been brought back to the table.

“To make matters worse we receive a text on Friday informing us that we are now in a consultation period - right before half term begins.”

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Gazette readers have mixed views on the proposals, which are now under consultation until June 30.

SeamusOg is against the bid.

They wrote: “I hope the parents are successful in their bid to stop this. Academisation will one day be seen as one of the most disastrous policies inflicted by politicians on our education system.”

But Silenced believes the school may prosper just as well as an academy.

They sent: “Whilst some businesses do indeed fail, many others flourish and succeed. Is Harton only successful as it’s under local authority? If that was the case, then surely every other school under local authority would be as successful? Or perhaps, it’s teachers and head are the reason it’s so successful.”

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Marcus P points out that Whitburn Church of England Academy, which gained it’s Academy status in 2011, also performed well under the local education authority (LEA).

He wrote: “Whitburn was doing very well whilst under the control of the LEA. I can see why some schools want to become an academy but it really isn’t a magic wand. Look at the league tables for proof of this.”

Scotchy believes the proposals are a bad idea - but the school will still be popular due to the annual South Shields lectures which are held there - the most recent being a visit from James Bond director Sam Mendes last month.

They added: “They will hang themselves out to dry as an academy, but certainly be popular with the odd celebrity appearance!”

What is an academy school?

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Academy schools are state-funded schools in England which are directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of local authority control. T

The terms of the arrangements are set out in individual Academy Funding Agreements..

Most academies are secondary schools. However, some primary schools, as well as some of the remaining first, middle and high schools, are also academies.

Academies are self-governing non-profit charitable trusts and may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors, either financially or in kind.

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They do not have to follow the National Curriculum, but do have to ensure that their curriculum is broad and balanced, and that it includes the core subjects of mathematics and English.

They are subject to inspection by Ofsted.