Heads react to academy rejection

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HEADTEACHERS from three Suffolk middle schools have attacked Suffolk County Council after their bid to become academies was rejected by the Government.

Sally Holmes, of Stowmarket Middle School, James Neale, of Needham Market Middle School and Mark Cresswell, of Combs Middle School, released a joint statement following a rejection of their applications last Tuesday for academy status by the Department of Education (DfE) after the decision was deferred in November.

Their statement read: “We are obviously disappointed not to have been given the go-ahead to become academies from the Department for Education. They informed us that they wanted to give the local authority time to consult with us and draw up plans for converting this area to two tier schooling under Suffolk’s School Organisation Review (SOR) policy.

“Sadly, we have not seen any such plan nor been consulted in any way. We felt compelled to apply for academy status because we did not feel that the local authority had the proper resources to ensure that their SOR policy could be implemented effectively and to the level of quality that children, parents and staff deserve. This remains our view.”

Cllr Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services, said: “Whilst we welcome schools being managed in different ways, with a variety of teaching approaches, a move that could lock us in to the retention of the three-tier education system would not have supported young people in preparing to compete in an increasingly tough jobs market. The DfE has supported this view.

“There remains a gap of 7.5% between achievement in the two tier and three tier systems at age 11. Our focus has always been, and will continue to be, what best supports every student in achieving their full potential.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Until we knew the outcome of the applications, we were not in a position to consult on a plan.”