Anti-academy campaigner Clive Lewis MP backs Thorpe St Andrew School’s academy plans

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

An MP who is a prominent critic of the government's academy programme has supported the decision of Norfolk's biggest high school to set up a multi-academy trust.

Thorpe St Andrew School yesterday told the Department for Education it plans to apply to become an academy, and work with other schools through the planned trust, following a consultation with staff and the community.

The school, which received Ofsted's top 'outstanding' rating in 2014, is one of the last Norfolk high schools which is not an academy.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who is patron of the Anti-Academy Alliance and an associate governor at Thorpe, said he understood the realpolitik where ministers want to create more academies.

He has criticised the accountability and transparency of some academies, but said: 'I have confidence in [principal] Ian Clayton and the school to ensure the academy they create themselves will be far more in tune with the values the people of their city want to see in their schools.'

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Mr Clayton said: 'We are not looking at this being a large chain that expands across the whole of Norfolk. Our primary focus is very, very clear. It is about establishing a structure for this community, at this stage. In the future it may develop, but our priority is for young people in the Thorpe St Andrew community.'

He said forming a multi-academy trust would allow the schools in the existing Thorpe St Andrew Educational Partnership to work more closely together, with some financial benefits.

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However, Mr Clayton added: 'We don't see this as centralised decision making from one school. It's about partnership schools coming together and working with partners with their own individuality maintained as much as possible, but with collective accountability.'

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