“Arch-critic” of academies movement explains why Dereham Neatherd wants to become an academy

Peter Devonish, headteacher of Dereham Neatherd High School

Peter Devonish, headteacher of Dereham Neatherd High School - Credit: Archant

A self-styled 'arch-critic' of the academy movement has revealed his high school will change course and apply to form an academy trust of its own.

Dereham Neatherd High School, whose 'good' Ofsted rating was confirmed last term, is one of the last non-academy secondary schools in Norfolk, and its headteacher Peter Devonish had been a high-profile critic of the government's academy programme.

However, he told staff yesterday that changed circumstances meant it was now reversing its policy, and would seek to becoming an academy.

Mr Devonish said: 'We don't want to be a stand-alone academy, because we don't see any benefit from that, whereas we think we would be good at looking after other schools in a multi-academy trust (MAT), and as a 'good' school we want to be the masters of our own fate.'

He said the government now favoured local academy trusts, which he said were more accountable than large academy chains.

He said the proposed academy trust would be likely to be open to primary schools in Dereham and mid-Norfolk.

In a letter to staff and parents, chair of governors Gill Spillman, said: 'Community is a key element in our vision and, for that reason, parents and students alike can be sure that the traditions and values of schools in our MAT will be respected and built upon.

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'Amongst other things, this means that the essential character of Neatherd as an inclusive, comprehensive school will remain intact: the name, uniform and ethos will be unchanged; the head of Neatherd will remain the head and will continue to teach.

'Teaching standards will not be compromised in any way. At the same time, the growing strength of the excellent senior management team we are fortunate in having at Neatherd will enable us to provide a firm lead to the MAT and we anticipate that our head will be its chief-executive.'

She said there would be a full consultation with parents, students and staff, with a meeting at the school at 7pm on Monday, January 25.

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