Potters Bar schools register interest in academy status

TWO secondary schools in Potters Bar could become free of local authority control, after registering their interest in the Government’s academy scheme.

Both Dame Alice Owen’s and Mount Grace were among some 900 other schools in the country to apply to the Department for Education for more information on becoming academies – which would see them break away from Hertfordshire County Council and have more control over how their students are taught.

Under Education Secretary Michael Gove’s push to “revolutionise” schooling in the UK, academies, while remaining state-funded, would have the final say over how the school is run and how the money they receive is spent.

Currently, only Dame Alice Owen’s, in Dugdale Hill Lane, is eligible for academy status, as it is graded Outstanding by Ofsted.

Headteacher Dr Alan Davison said the school was keeping an “open mind” about its future.

“The governing body has a duty to scrutinise all opportunities to do the best for our children, but there’s an awful lot of information that needs to be established,” Dr Davison said.

“At present, we’re doing the research and keeping an open mind.

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“We have a very good relationship with the local authority. There’s been a lot of hype about opting out of local authority control, but that’s not our interest. The bit that is of most interest is the opportunity to spend the money currently spent by the LEA on school priorities.”

Dr Davison said “categorically” that Dame Alice Owen’s would not be an academy by the start of the new school year in September.

Peter Baker, headteacher of Mount Grace in Church Road, said that his school already had a certain amount of autonomy, as it has already achieved foundation status.

He added: “The additional funding will be welcome to enable us to accelerate the building improvements that are currently under way.

“That said, as a foundation school we have always maintained strong links with the local authority and we would continue to buy into many of the excellent services they currently provide.

“Academy status would not affect the strong partnerships that Mount Grace has forged with other schools in the local area.”