New row over academy school

Governors of a Felixstowe high school are opposing moves to create an academy in the town - claiming it will mean parents have less choice for their children.

FELIXSTOWE: Governors of a Felixstowe high school are opposing moves to create an academy in the town - claiming it will mean parents have less choice for their children.

Parents at Deben High have launched a protest group against proposals to create a new �32 million academy run by the Academies Enterprise Trust to replace Deben and Orwell high schools in 2013.

Now governors at Deben have spoken out against the project, which has been approved in principle by secretary of state Ed Balls and say they are “very concerned” about the decision.

“The governing body of Deben High School does not believe that Felixstowe needs the academy model to drive up standards,” it said in a statement.

“We are concerned at the decision taken by county council as it removes choice and influence from the community in how its children are educated.

“Most parents want to have a choice about the type of school they send their child to - with an academy being the only school in Felixstowe, they will not have this choice.

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“The next nearest schools in Kesgrave and Woodbridge that are not academy schools are usually full. As a result Felixstowe parents will have no real choice about where they send their children.

“Deben governors do not understand why an external company who admitted at the public meetings to having little knowledge of the local community has been chosen to run a school in Felixstowe.”

Deben and Orwell had hoped the new Felixstowe Learning Trust, which includes partners from East of England Co-op, NHS Suffolk, University College Suffolk, and Felixstowe Chamber of Commerce, would win the bid to run the new school.

The county council hopes the academy will improve education in the town.

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

FASTFACTS: What is an academy?

Academies are all-ability, state-funded schools set up and managed by sponsors from a wide range of backgrounds, including high performing schools and colleges, universities, businesses, the voluntary sector, and faith communities.

Sponsors challenge traditional thinking on how schools are run and what they should be like for students.

They seek to change the school's way of thinking completely, and set up an endowment fund to spend on measures to counteract the impact of deprivation on education in their communities.

All academies are bound by the same school admissions code, as other state-funded schools and are required to follow the National Curriculum programmes of study in English, maths, science and ICT.

GCSE performance in academies has improved compared with the schools they replaced.

Academies have seen an 11.5 per cent rise in pupils achieving 5-plus A*-C GCSEs including English and maths.

Overall, the academies are three times oversubscribed - with between two and six applicants for every place in some areas.