Welwyn Garden City schools unite behind Academy consultation

THREE WGC schools have joined forces to investigate the possibilities of becoming independent Academies.

Stanborough, Applecroft and Lakeside schools, working together as Handside Schools Partnership, have announced they are collaborating on a fact-finding exercise to see if gaining Academy status would benefit pupils, parents and staff.

Under the Academy scheme, schools are free from local authority control and funded directly by the Government, as well as from charities and other interested organisations.

Recent figures from Education Department show that the number of academies in England has trebled since Education Secretary Michael Gove relaxed laws surrounding the programme in order to speed up the application process.

Judith Chamberlain, headteacher at special needs school Lakeside, in Lemsford Lane, said: “Schools are obliged to register an interest in Academy status with the Department for Education in order to get help with understanding fully the implications of adopting that status and that is, in effect, all that we have done.

“This will enable us, at no cost, to find out more about the possibilities.”

Applecroft head Vicky Parsey, said: “An attraction of Academy status is simply the freedom to stay as you are and progress as you wish in uncertain economic times and with the curriculum vulnerable to political influence.

Most Read

“It may be that conversion is a way for Stanborough, Applecroft and Lakeside to be sure of being able to continue to offer the excellence in education they currently do.”

A formal consultation period on the proposals will be announced soon.

Peter Brown, headteacher at Stanborough, also in Lemsford Lane, said: “We regard it as extremely important that we get as much feedback and as many ideas as possible so that we can make a final decision based on the widest set of views available to us. It has to be stressed that no decision has been made about conversion.

“We all need to be assured that this will be in the best interest of our pupils and we will not proceed further without that assurance.”

A Hertfordshire County Council spokesman said: “The proposed partnership between the three schools is an exciting development that would bring together several stages of education for the benefit of all of the children.

“We will work with all schools wishing to become Academies to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements and to guarantee best use of scarce financial resources.”