BSCS ploughs on with academy plan despite partnership setbacks

Bradley Stoke Community School

The Governors of Bradley Stoke Community School (BSCS) have decided to plough on with plans to convert the school to academy status despite its two proposed partner schools deciding to drop out of the process in recent months.

BSCS, Brimsham Green School (BGS) and Patchway Community College (PCC) had collectively applied to the Department for Education to become a chain (federation) academy and each school began its own stakeholder consultation process in early May.

News that all was not well in the partnership first surfaced on Bradley Stoke Radio’s Big Issues programme on Thursday 9th June, when BSCS Headteacher Dave Baker revealed that Brimsham Green School had withdrawn from the process.

Research shows that the news had already been made public by BGS Headteacher Alun Williams in a newsletter published on 27th May, in which he wrote:

“Feedback from this consultation has been discussed and the Governors and I have decided that at this point, we do not wish to move to academy status. This decision was taken because of the feedback from parents, staff and students. Additionally, after much research we felt that there would be no short term gains educationally or financially. Therefore, Brimsham Green will remain as a LA [Local Authority] school in the short term.”

The setback was compounded earlier this week when a BSCS letter dated 14th July revealed that “the Governors of Patchway Community College have … decided they will remain as a Local Authority Community School”.

The main reasons for the PPC decision are said to have been communicated to BSCS as follows:

  • The financial benefits for PCC are not significant enough in relation to the additional costs and perceived risks
  • The views of PCC stakeholders including Staff, Parents and Students
  • The potential loss of autonomy
  • Wanting to maintain focus on PCC student progress and success

The BSCS Governors say they met with staff earlier this week to provide another opportunity for them to raise questions or reiterate points ahead of a Governers’ meeting on Wednesday (13th July), where a decision to “convert to academy status with effect from 1st January 2012 but as a federation of one school” was unanimously approved.

The BSCS letter concludes:

“This provides an opportunity for BSCS to establish a ‘fit for future’ governance and leadership structure which retains the distinctive characteristics and ethos evident within our outstanding school AND focus on driving continuous school improvement for the benefit of young people.”

The school’s legal advisors will now be instructed to establish an academy trust (the name of which has yet to be confirmed) and an academy conversion working group will be set up to oversee the conversion process.

The defections of BSG and PCC leave Bradley Stoke Community School as the only one in South Gloucestershire to have a “live” application for conversion to academy status lodged with the Department of Education.

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  1. This decision marks a sad day for the children and families of Bradley Stoke. The people of this town fought for the provision of secondary education and were rewarded with the aptly named Bradley Stoke Community School. The unrestricted admissions policies of academy schools will mean that this school will now cast its net wider than the traditional catchment area, resulting in selective admission and denial of places to the children of the community of which the school was founded to serve.

    Furthermore, the statement “This provides an opportunity for BSCS to establish a ‘fit for future’ governance and leadership structure”, highlights a further issue with the conversion to academy status and in particular the dogmatic attitude of the current governors. The board of trustees of this school will be accountable to no one, as opposed to the traditional governing body who have accountability to the LA and the parental body. The local community will lose its voice in the future direction of this school.

    I wish them well, but fear they may repent at leisure.

  2. Children of the local community are already denied places as there are more primary places in our town than places at BSCS.

  3. As one of those ‘dogmatic’ governors, I can assure that BSCS will continue to remain a focal point for the community and has no intention of introducing admission policies which prejudice local people. We are not a school looking to admit pupils due to the size of their parents wallet!

    The school annually receives more applications than places available due to its reputation and the number of young people in the area; hence some do have to go to neighbouring schools. There are also a significant number of young people who also chose to go to other schools.

    The school will be accountable to every pupil, parent and staff member as well as the Community – and we continue to progress.

    There was a lengthy consultation process and Dave Baker (Headteacher) and Claire Emery (Chair of Governors) will ensure the school follows the ethos of “In the Community – For the Community”.

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