Shock move to academy status a done deal at St Ives
ST IVES School has confirmed it will be an academy by April 1 – and has revealed it is in discussions to make Truro and Penwith College its "academy sponsor".
The school said the shock deal would put it in a strong position to take advantages of changes in the economy, learning and technology.
It could also reassure parents concerned that the move to controversial academy status could lead to its assets and ethos being controlled by a private education supplier or business.
The school has confirmed it will inform staff and parents today that it will be an academy by April 1 next year.
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Schools normally choose to become academies after parents and governors decide to opt out of council control.
The Department for Education effectively removed that choice after a scathing Ofsted report that led to it being put into special measures and Cornwall Council parachuting in acting head teacher Richard Schofield.
Some parents said last week's 16 per cent increase in the school's GCSE results showed the "failed" Ofsted inspection was part of a Government policy to get more schools to take on academy status.
But new chairman of governors, Steve Burgess, said: "We saw the same data at the start of the last academic year that Ofsted used and we were aware that we needed to change and improve. These results follow a change that the governors and [now deputy head teacher] Jenny Veal put in place. Jenny Veal did an awful lot of work to push that forward.
"It's fantastic progress and I'm delighted for the team but it is where we should be already. Now we have a great chance to progress the school while holding onto the values we've got."
That progress could hang on whether the move to bring in the college as sponsor goes ahead.
It will need to gain the blessing of the governors of both institutions and – crucially – the Department for Education.
Mr Burgess added: "St Ives has a fantastic chance to be a real beacon for the area.
"Truro and Penwith College ticks a lot of boxes that need to be ticked. They understand the needs of the community and can help us achieve change without changing the ethos of the school.
"Academisation means different things to different people. I understand there have been some unfriendly and unwanted takeovers elsewhere. For me it has always been about listening to parents and [working] through the governors, to influence the Department for Education about the choice of our preferred partner."
A spokesman for the college confirmed its governing body was considering "a potential bid for academy sponsorship".
He said: "Things are still at a developmental stage, but there is positive progress thus far. There are clearly great advantages to the very strong local solution this arrangement would represent."
The news comes days after the school sent parents a "blueprint" for its future.
It laid out a set of "non-negotiable criteria" for any sponsorship deal, including the school remaining on its current site, maintaining the quality and rights of teachers, and keeping appointments and the curriculum in the hands of governors and senior teachers.