BSCS registers interest in becoming an academy

Bradley Stoke Community School

Bradley Stoke Community School (BSCS) has officially registered its interest in becoming an academy, according to information released by the Government following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The move could lead to BSCS receiving its funding directly from the Government (instead of South Gloucestershire Council) and would give the school more control over the pay and conditions of staff and over what they teach.

Shortly after the General Election in May, Education Secretary Michael Gove wrote to all state schools in England inviting them to opt out of local authority control and convert to academy status. Mr Gove also stated that some academies could be created in time for the new academic year in September 2010.

According to the Department for Education website, academies are “publicly funded independent schools that provide a first-class education”. Headteachers and Governors are told:

“Academies can benefit from greater freedoms to help you innovate and raise standards. These freedoms include:

  • freedom from local authority control
  • ability to set your own pay and conditions for staff
  • ability to change the lengths of terms and school days
  • freedom from following the National Curriculum”

Schools such as BSCS that are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted will be ‘pre-approved’, effectively meaning that their applications can be fast-tracked.

Surprisingly, BSCS is the only school in South Gloucestershire to have registered an interest in becoming an academy. Nationally, 70% of all ‘outstanding’ schools are said to have done so.

Dave Baker

BSCS Headteacher Dave Baker told The Journal:

“We are on the list at present not because we are about to become an academy but because registering is the only way of finding out all the necessary information. The school governing body will be issuing a statement at the end of this week but we are gathering information at present in order to be able to make an informed decision.”

Mindful of BSCS’s key role within the Concorde Partnership of local schools, Mr Baker added:

We have no desire to jeopardise the partnerships which we are committed to locally and have no axe to grind with the local authority; nor do we feel restricted by the National Curriculum but we do have to look at the most efficient way of operating if we are to face significant budget cuts in the months and years ahead.

Our sole aim in even considering academy status is to make sure that we provide our students with the best possible education.

The move to massively increase the number of academies has been heavily criticised by unions who claim academies undermine teachers’ rights and splinter the education system.

A number of unions have joined parents, pupils, teachers, councillors and MPs to form The Anti Academies Alliance, which claims that implementation of the Academies Bill is likely to leave local authorities managing the schools with the most difficulties, with diminishing budgets.

The National Governors’ Association says it is urging members to proceed with caution because the Government has not yet published its funding template for academies and Governors cannot see what they would be signing up to.

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  1. Why is it necessary for BSCS to become an academy? Currently it is under the control of the local authority who we elect by becoming an academy local parents are disenfranchised. As responsibility for the school doesn’t ultimately rest with the local council but instead with the department for education in London.

    There are some very important issues surrounding over-sight of the school, the last time this policy was tried, then called “grant-maintained schools” it ended with a headteacher (Colleen McCabe) convicted of stealing school funds. Also, how accountable are the school management going to be to the residents and parents because if they have a problem with the school they will have to petition the education minister in London.

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