Academy plans spark consultation concerns

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FOUR local primary schools are looking into the possible benefits that forming a joint academy trust could bring to their pupils.

Consultation on the plans has begun between teachers, governors and parents of pupils at Ingoldmels Primary School, Hogsthorpe Primary School, Skegness Infants and Skegness Juniors. Although some parents and councillors were concerned at the limited information contained in the consultation as it stands and the short time frame with which to respond, the schools have made assurances that this is just a preliminary investigation, rather than a final decision.

Head teacher at Skegness Infants Sue Roy said: “We are looking into the possibility of becoming an academy because there is national consensus to do so and as we already work together in partnership, we felt this could be a good way of developing that further.

“We are in the process of acquiring information to see what would be best for the schools and the children.”

“This is an initial investigation which in no way commits us to actually becoming an academy.”

The formation of such a trust would remove the schools from the Local Education Authority’s jurisdiction meaning their funding would come directly from government. Academy schools receive increased funding and have greater autonomy to tailor education to meet their pupils’ specific needs.

However, without the assistance of the LEA, any school making the transition to an academy also has to take on greater administrative responsibilities and financial burdens.

With the potential impact such a decision could pose to the education of thousands of children, some local councillors have expressed their desire to ensure that the wider community is fully engaged with before any final decision is made.

Coun Mark Smith, who is a governor at Skegness Grammar School and sits on the Children’s and Young Persons’ Scrutiny Committee at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “I firmly believe that the primary school governors considering academy status must enter into the correct, meaningful and robust 360 degree consultation with all interested parties, including staff, existing parents, future parents, local secondary schools, the local wider community and businesses to ensure that all the essential issues are considered.”

During the initial consultation stage neither Lincolnshire County Council nor any of the local secondary schools have as yet been consulted.

Coun Colin Davie has also expressed fears about any lasting decisions being made without the opportunity for wider talks. He said: “It is important that there are proper public meetings where all interested parties can debate the future of education on our coast and whether this is the correct way forward.

“A consultation exercise that does not embrace the full and formal processes I have described, will therefore be nothing but a total sham.”

l Skegness Grammar School is also looking into plans to form an academy - see page four for details.