Ipswich: Thurleston High School sets sights on academy status
A SECOND school in the town has announced it is to become an academy, The Evening Star can reveal today.
Thurleston High School has been given the green light from the Department of Education to seek a sponsor to make the plans a reality.
Last April, the Defoe Road school was handed a notice to improve by inspectors who judged the school’s overall effectiveness as inadequate.
In December a further inspection revealed “clear signs of improvement”.
Today, headteacher Mike Everett said he hopes the “exciting” changes will bring a more accelerated rate of improvement.
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But the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) Suffolk representative Graham White condemned the move, which he fears will give the school a free hand to change teachers’ pay and conditions.
At the start of this term, the Ipswich Academy, formerly Holywells High School, opened its doors in a first for the town.
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Academies, championed by the coalition government, are publicly-funded independent schools, free from local authority and national government control.
It means schools can set their own pay and conditions for staff, decide on the curriculum as well as giving them the opportunity to change the length of their terms and school days.
Mr Everett said it was “critical” to find a sponsor “with a proven track record” to “support the school in improving outcomes for young people more quickly”.
He said: “The main benefit of becoming an academy is that the school will enjoy greater flexibility over the curriculum and will control a larger proportion of its budget.
“We must not gamble with young peoples’ lives. We are a relatively small school and so we have to be realistic, we have peaks and troughs.
“We are hoping that with a sponsor keeping an eye on what we are doing we will be able to even out those peaks and troughs.”
Mr White said the NUT is “absolutely opposed to academies”.
He said by coming outside of local authority control they are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and so do not have to disclose information to the public and press as requested.
“I can see no reason or advantage for any school to become an academy,” he said.
“As an academy a school has more flexibility.
“They can choose their curriculum and we believe there are some horrendous options out there.
“And it concerns us that they have the potential to change teachers’ pay and conditions.”