Academy talks gather pace at Spalding High School

HIGH ACADEMY: Headmistress Michele Anderson of Spalding High School which could become an academy.
HIGH ACADEMY: Headmistress Michele Anderson of Spalding High School which could become an academy.
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Spalding High School is holding talks with students, staff and parents with a view to becoming an academy.

A “period of formal consultation” is set to end in two weeks’ time after which school governors will meet to discuss the options of moving from local authority to central government funding.

Dr Peter Gorton, chairman of governors for Spalding High School.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Dr Peter Gorton, chairman of governors for Spalding High School. Photo by Tim Wilson.

The school in Stonegate, Spalding, would become the fifth school in South Holland to convert to academy status after Spalding Grammar School, Thomas Cowley High School, Donington, University Academy Holbeach and Spalding Academy, the new name for Sir John Gleed School since September 1.

In a joint statement, Spalding High School headmistress Michele Anderson and chairman of governors Dr Peter Gorton said: “The Governors and staff of Spalding High School are committed to ensuring the best possible education and provision for our students.

“We believe it is right for us to be able to make decisions that serve both our students and the local community well, whilst still providing the best value for money.

“It is critical to us that we are in the best position to protect our educational provision and preserve the ethos of our school for both current and future students.

It is critical to us that we are in the best position to protect our educational provision and preserve the ethos of our school for both current and future students

Spalding High School headmistress Michele Anderson and chairman of governors Dr Peter Gorton

“We believe that in order for us to effectively achieve these commitments, the time has come for us to reconsider converting to academy status.”

Academy schools, as opposed to community schools that are run by Lincolnshire County Council, are all-ability, independent state schools that are funded directly from the Government.

However, the day-to-day running of the school still rests with the headmaster, headmistress, head teacher or principal, overseen by an independent academy trust.

The joint statement said: “Although we are currently under local authority control, we are already a highly autonomous organisation, responsible for the day-to-day management and long-term planning for the school.

Spalding Grammar School chairman of governors, the Rev John Bennett.

Spalding Grammar School chairman of governors, the Rev John Bennett.

“This has been one of the most significant changes over the last five years and one of the key reasons we feel it is the right time to review our position, having previously explored the prospect of converting to an academy in 2011.

“An informal consultation took place with staff, parents, pupils and others but, at the end of it, the decision was made to remain under local authority control.

“However, in the last five years the educational landscape has changed enormously and academy conversion, particularly within the secondary sector has been rapid and widespread, both nationally and within Lincolnshire.

“We are in the significant minority of local authority-controlled secondary schools within the county, although academy conversion has been under constant review by the governors during the last five years, especially so since the general election of 2015.

“We are an attractive school, with fantastic students, a professional and committed staff, an experienced governing body and excellent results.”

The Rev John Bennett, chairman of governors at Spalding Grammar School, said: “The governors were initially hesitant about converting to an academy.

“We were concerned that we would lose the support of the local authority and that final responsibility would rest with us if anything went seriously wrong.

“However, we were persuaded to take the plunge only when it became clear that the additional funding would bring greater financial stability for the future.

“For us, the conversion to an academy has been a positive move as we have been able to recruit governors with a wider range of skills who are active in overseeing the direction of the school, holding the headmaster to account for academic performance and ensuring that the school’s budget is spent effectively and efficiently.

“At our last Ofsted inspection, there was praise for the governors and for their part in the leadership and management of the school which indicated how well we have stepped up to the challenge of being an academy school.”