Sunderland school’s expansion plan bid

Dr Phil Ingram, headteacher of Southmoor Academy with students.
Dr Phil Ingram, headteacher of Southmoor Academy with students.
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A WEARSIDE school is hoping to get the green light to expand.

Southmoor Academy has this week put in a bid to central Government to get the go-ahead to open a sixth form.

Dr Phil Ingram, principal at the Ryhope Road school, said he hopes to find out in a few weeks if the proposal has been accepted, but everyone at the academy is very hopeful.

He said: “I think we have a strong bid, taking into account our track record for up to 16s, and we have a strong wave of support from parents.

“What we want to do is offer our parents and students the extra choice.

“The aim of the sixth form would be to offer the hard subjects, those which are highly regarded by the top universities.”

Dr Ingram said statistics show that at the moment six per cent of Sunderland’s A-level students gain places in Russell Group universities, the country’s leading institutions, compared to the national average of eight per cent.

He said: “We want to get good results and get more of our students into the top universities.”

The academy principal said at the moment students who want to study A-levels in Sunderland have to either go to college or to a faith school.

He said: “Schools and colleges offer very different learning environments. Both have their merits, but are very different.

“Some parents may prefer their child to study at a school sixth form, but might not want a faith school, so I think we would fill a niche.”

Chairman of governors Dr John Brown said: “The well wishes of our parents and pupils in our bid for a sixth form were truly heart-warming. They really believe in us.”

This month Southmoor Academy celebrated the news it was in the top 100 schools across the country for the improvement that pupils make between primary school and GCSEs, which followed a recent award for being in the top 10 per cent of most improved schools nationally.

But this week bosses said they were looking to shed six posts before the end of the academic year because of an overhaul of the curriculum.

Five new posts will be created in subjects such as languages and science.

Dr Ingram, who received a letter from the Minister for Education, David Laws, congratulating the school on its success, said: “There are around 4,000 secondary schools in the country, and to be in the top 100 is something for the whole of Sunderland to celebrate.”

He added: “The letter says that we should be aiming to go on to be one of the highest-performing schools in the country – that’s just what we intend to do.”