Academy's pledge for school

ACADEMY bosses have defended teaching methods set to replace the existing curriculum at an Ipswich school.

ACADEMY bosses have defended teaching methods set to replace the existing curriculum at an Ipswich school.

Swedish education provider Kunskapsskolan has already been chosen by Suffolk County Council to transform Holywells High into an academy by September 2010.

But the group is facing sustained criticism from the same students it promises will benefit from a 'personalised learning model' to be rolled out at three UK schools including Holywells.

Sixth form student James Ager thinks regime change at his school could risk “playing with children's education.”

The 17-year-old said: “I don't think the model will suit Holywells.

“Kunskapsskolan is not untested in this country but I and many other students are not convinced it will work at a school in a deprived area like Holywells.”

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Deemed to be failing by inspectors in 2001, Holywells was put on special measures, leading the school's governing body to explore the prospect of academy status.

By the time Kunskapsskolan was eventually chosen to take over, attainment had significantly improved at the school.

Year 13 student James said: “Success at the school has got better and continues to do so. But the council demanded success too quickly - it wasn't going to happen overnight.

“The teachers here are top class and continue to raise standards.”

Steve Bolingbroke, managing director of Kunskapsskolan in the UK, said: “We don't expect all young people to become self motivated learners but we try to develop skills in them that they can take to college or to the workplace and be able to learn for themselves.

“We will use the same admission criteria as the council uses and are an absolutely comprehensive education provider.

“All staff pay and conditions are protected by legislation. There is no question of us cutting staff unless we reach an agreement with them to do so.

“The school will be run by a charitable trust for which the majority of the board of directors is selected by Kunskapsskolan. The trust signs a lease with the council for the school buildings - if Kunskapsskolan goes bust the trust still exists.”

- Will academy status be good for Holywells? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

How Holywells became an academy:

- The council came under fire from staff, parents and teaching unions when the Church of England was named as the preferred sponsor last September.

- Several other potential sponsors were considered and alternative options explored, including the school becoming a trust rather than an academy

- In June this year the school took a step closer to becoming an academy following government approval for Kunskapsskolan to take over.

- Sweden's biggest secondary education provider expects to reopen Holywells as an academy in September next year.

Before then a detailed proposal of feasibility and an expression of Kunskapsskolan's interest in the school must be green-lighted by the council and the government's department for children, schools and families.