Leaflet drive in fight against academy

IPSWICH: Campaigning students are today hitting the streets in search of supporters to join the fight against their school being turned into an academy.

IPSWICH: Campaigning students are today hitting the streets in search of supporters to join the fight against their school being turned into an academy.

A group of teenagers opposed to Holywells High being taken over by Swedish secondary education provider Kunskapsskolan are going door-to-door delivering campaign flyers in the area surrounding the school.

Holywells is set for academy status next September but students have continually voiced their disapproval at the move and are now appealing for public support.

Members of the 'Holywells SOS (Save Our School)' group are delivering 5,000 flyers condemning the academy plans to homes in Ipswich this week.

James Ager and fellow Year 13 student Darren Bloom started the group, which also has a 600-signature petition, its own website and a Facebook group with around 460 members.

“Holywells SOS is a campaign that opposes the academy plans for Holywells,” said 17-year-old James.

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“There are a number of concerns held by teachers, parents and students and we are also opposed to a Swedish profit-making organisation having control over the education of current and future Holywells students.

“There is also a lack of public awareness so our campaign intends to raise awareness of the plans for Holywells.”

However, Simon White, director for children and young people at Suffolk County Council, said: “Creating an academy does not privatise the school. Academies are all-ability, state-funded schools established and managed by sponsors from a wide range of backgrounds.

“The school remains a National Challenge school, meaning its attainment is below the minimum government standard at GCSE of 30 per cent of pupils achieving five good passes including English and Maths.”

Steve Bolingbroke, managing director of Kunskapsskolan in the UK, added: “We are providing the academy with our expertise, ideas and materials that contribute to personalised learning and experiences of operating successful schools in Sweden.”

Holywells SOS will be in Ipswich town centre with NUT representatives this Saturday asking shoppers to support the campaign.

Should Holywells become an academy? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Holywells Academy - the story so far

Controversial plans to put control of the school in the hands of a private sponsor began last year when the Church of England was named as the preferred backer.

Since then several other potential sponsors were considered but in June this year the school took a step closer to becoming an academy following government approval for Kunskapsskolan to take control.

Sweden's biggest secondary education provider expects to reopen Holywells as an academy in September next year, following approval from the council and the department for children, schools and families.

There will be a statutory six week consultation period during which people can view and formally comment on the specific plans for the future of the school.

Responses to objections made by Holywells SOS from Simon White and Steve Bolingbroke

“Holywells is an improving school.”

Simon White: “Having a sponsor to work with the school, focusing on school improvement and the long term planning for the school, will help to ensure its long term future, and ensure Holywells becomes a beacon of excellence which will attract pupils and parents to the school.”

“Academies have 'statistically indistinguishable' GCSE results from state schools.”

Simon White: “There are 36 academies which have seen an 11.5pc increase in the number of students gaining 5 A*-C GCSE grades at the end of Key Stage 4, more than twice the 4.6pc increase nationally during the same period.”

“All staff jobs are at risk.”

Steve Bolingbroke: “All current staff at Holywells will transfer to the academy - in accordance with current EU legislation.”

“New uniforms will be required.”

Steve Bolingbroke: “Any decision to change the school uniforms will be taken with consideration given to the potential cost for students and their parents. The DCSF provides a grant to parents to help fund a change in uniform.”