Schools get academy status boost

Have your say

TWO threatened middle schools have been given a boost after their bid to become academies was backed by the Government.

Horringer Court and Westley middle schools have joined forces with County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds to convert simultaneously into three separate academies linked by an ‘umbrella trust’.

The move would create ‘some stability’ for the middle schools, which face the axe as part of Suffolk County Council’s proposals to switch to a two-tier education system.

However, the authority has had to shelve plans for the schools organisation review (SOR) for Bury until at least 2017, creating ‘uncertainty’ for middle schools.

After being rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors, County Upper could have sought academy status on its own last year but instead chose to reach out to the two middle schools because of the situation.

The proposal has been accepted by the Department of Education and the schools are now consulting with parents.

County Upper head teacher Vicky Neale said: “With the SOR being on hold, it’s a long time to try to have a stable system. We saw it as an important opportunity to go as a group of schools and control the situation.

“It’s about providing that stability and confidence.”

The head teachers at the two middle schools confirmed they will review the situation when the SOR develops.

Tania Johnson, of Horringer Court, said: “We would consider the SOR as and when it happened. You would have to weigh up what’s going on around you.”

Nick Templeton, of Westley, added: “If central government wanted Suffolk to be two-tier, we wouldn’t have a lot of say in it.

“I would like to think we could have a bit more control over how it happened.

“The worry was the uncertainty as we run up to the SOR, which could affect staff morale. If there’s more stability staff will feel they’ve got a future here.”

Academies are accountable to their board of governors and the government but they can still access services from the county.