Pupils: 'We will fight for our school'

SIXTH form students have today vowed to fight to stop their school becoming a Church sponsored academy.

Tom Potter

SIXTH form students have today vowed to fight to stop their school becoming a Church sponsored academy.

Students at Holywells High in Ipswich gathered to let their feelings be known after their school was earmarked for academy status and the Church of England was declared by the Suffolk County Council as a preferable backer.

The group is determined to stand behind the school which they said has seen huge improvements recently and particularly under the leadership of acting head Terry Duffell.

A final decision has yet to be made but some students at the Lindbergh Road school have made it clear they are not convinced by the proposal and promised to protest publicly if it goes ahead.

Lower sixth former Rhiannon Williams said: “We're prepared to protest and this is just the first step.

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“We're letting them know that not everyone wants this to happen.

“The school is good and there's no need for them to turn it into an academy. If it wasn't good, people wouldn't come from other high schools to join the sixth form. I came here from Stowupland because I heard about Holywells' good reputation.”

Fellow student, Lois Ling, reiterated her friend's sentiment, saying: “If a decision is made to turn Holywells into an academy I think students, parents, and teachers will rebel.”

James Ager, who also has a brother in Year Eight, said: “We really don't want it to be turned into an academy and our parents don't like the sound of it either.”

Acting head teacher at Holywells, Terry Duffell, said: “As a response to a significant number of parental requests we have sent out a letter to keep people informed of what is happening.

“A further meeting is scheduled to explore the issue and we are hoping that a solution can be found that will be in the best interests of the school.”

A public consultation is due to take place before a final decision is made about the future of Holywells.

- Do you agree with the students or do you think Holywells would benefit from becoming an academy? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

- Views from pupils

Darren Bloom said: “No one wants it. A few years ago this was a struggling school but now it's a lot more successful.

“The papers have reported the good results that have been coming out of the school.

“Changing something that is starting to work well won't make it work any better.

“The grades have been going up every year I've been here.”

Elysia McCoy said: “The head teacher is brilliant here. The school was failing until Mr Duffell came along.”

Danielle Kennedy said: “The sixth formers have been together for seven weeks. A lot of us have come here from different schools and have developed friendships. Now everything is going to be changed and people may leave as a result.

“What about people of different cultures and religions? This school is full of people from different backgrounds.”

Caroline Pugh, assistant head of sixth form, said:

“The students came to me after they had spoken to The Evening Star.

“It's brilliant and I'm sure it will help people realise that the students really do have a voice.

“The general feeling is that they don't want this to happen and they feel very strongly about it.”

- The background

Holywells was put in special measures in 2001 after inspectors judged the school to be failing.

In 2006 Holywells governors considered the option of becoming an academy run by sponsors chosen by the school and receiving money to improve the school's resources.

Since then the decision to select a preferred sponsor has been put in the hands of the council and, in March this year, the school was informed that the Church of England was interested in sponsorship.

The private sponsor would appoint most of the governors, even in the case of Holywells where the council would act as a co-sponsor.

These governors would appoint the principal, employ staff, administer finances and approve the curriculum.

Staff and governors at Holywells agreed that the proposal would not be in the school's best interests and the governing body withdrew from the process.

One reason for the withdrawal was the concern that staff pay and conditions of service would not be given the same level of protection but the final decision ultimately rests with the council.

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