TWO primary schools are celebrating being the first to become independent academies in Sunderland.
Town End Primary and neighbouring Bexhill Primary have both been awarded academy status, to be run by Bexhill and Town End Academies Limited.
Although they are two separate schools, the now Town End Academy and Bexhill Academy are run side by side with Teresa Laybourne as headteacher of both. The children at the schools, in Town End Farm, spend time together at breakfast and after-school clubs and also on school trips.
Wearside already had three academies, Red House, Castle View and Academy 360. However, unlike Town End and Bexhill, these are still under local authority control.
Mrs Laybourne said: “We are unique in that we are a multi-academy company.
“It is a really exciting time for us and has given a real buzz to both schools.”
She said they are in the process of having new logos and uniforms made and it was the children themselves who wanted the designs to incorporate both schools.
The headteacher said: “One uniform was blue and the other red so the children decided to put them together and create a purple uniform for everyone.”
Mrs Laybourne, who is Sunderland’s only National Leader of Education, said Town End Academy is a National Support School, which means it can be called upon to advise other primary schools.
After several outstanding Ofsted reports it was able to apply to become a convertor academy, designed by the Government to allow the most successful schools to take greater control of their affairs.
Mrs Laybourne said: “Being academies will open up lots of opportunities for us.”
She said the benefits will include getting funding directly from the Government and greater freedom to set the curriculum to meet the individual needs of the pupils.
The headteacher said they have had a huge amount of positive feedback from everyone involved in the transition from local authority school to an academy and staff have all been transferred over with no changes to their previous pay and conditions.
Houghton Kepier Sports College could soon be following in the footsteps of Town End and Bexhill to become a convertor academy.
The governing body of the Dairy Lane school is currently carrying out a consultation process with every organisation involved with the secondary school to gather opinions about applying for academy status.