Parents can help shape future of Sunderland school earmarked as academy

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STUDENTS and parents at a Wearside secondary school are being consulted over whether it should become an academy.

The governing body at Houghton Kepier Sports College voted in favour of pursuing the option of becoming an academy and are currently speaking to all interested parties to gather their views.

Sue Hyland, headteacher at the Dairy Lane school, said everyone has until March 28 to reply to the consultation and the governors will decide if they want to go ahead with the application at the end of the month.

Mrs Hyland said: “The consultation process is well underway and we are seeking the views of everyone involved with the school, including meetings with students and parents.”

As the city’s only foundation school, Houghton Kepier already has a degree of freedom from the local authority, such as the governing body has greater powers over employing staff and the school owns all its buildings.

Mrs Hyland said they have reassured staff if the move goes ahead they would automatically transfer to the new academy, not see their wages cut and the name of the school would remain Houghton Kepier Sports College.

If they decide to go ahead, the school would apply to become a Converter Academy. This is one of the new Government categories where schools judged by Ofsted to be outstanding or good with outstanding features, can apply for academy status.

An academy is essentially an independent school, which is funded by the state. It is given freedom from local authority control and receives funding directly from the Government.

The Convertor Academy status is designed to allow the most successful schools to take greater control of their own affairs in order to raise standards even further.

Mrs Hyland said the advantages for the school of becoming an academy include greater freedom to adapt their curriculum to suit the needs of the pupils and being funded directly from the Government, which means Sunderland City Council will not get a slice of their budget and approximately an extra £550,000 going straight into the school’s coffers.

The school would also have the freedom to apply directly to the Government to establish a sixth form, something it has wanted to do for years, but for which it could not get council backing.