Troubled schools look to make academy switch

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TWO schools currently fighting their way out of special measures have enlisted the help of a specialist trust in order to become academies.

Queensway Junior School in Thetford and Hockwold and Methwold Community School in Methwold are both seeking the help of the Academy Transformation Trust (ATT) in order to switch status.

If their applications are successful, both schools would become academies in September.

Laura Jestico, Queensway headteacher, said the move would allow the school to build on the improvements it has made since being put in special measures at the end of 2010.

“This is about taking the school up to the next level and it will give us the freedom to allocate resources and people where they are needed for our children,” she said.

Academy status involves government money being given directly to the school, bypassing county council control.

Jeff Prosser, chair of governors at Methwold, said the school was left little choice in making the change - agreeing that it ‘jumped before it was pushed’.

“In fives years’ time all schools will be academies so we felt it was best to be proactive and make the first move.

“This way we can work with the sponsors that we feel best fit our approach to education,” he said.

Mr Prosser added that despite the nature of the move, it was a positive one for the school and its preferred course of action.

Ian Cleland, chief executive of ATT, visited both schools this week to discuss the move with staff.

He said the group’s partnerships - including Gaia Technologies and Equity Solutions, a building and maintenance group - would give extra support to the schools’ growth.

“We’ll be able to provide a high quality learning environment for children with the best technology out there,” he said.

On approval, the school would become a new entity.

The majority of staff would retain their role in the new set-up, although the principals’ positions have to be advertised by law.

Parents at both schools will be consulted on the changes in the coming months.