Plans for pioneering academy trust could go ahead without East Norfolk Sixth Form College

East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston.

East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Plans for two high schools and two sixth forms to create a pioneering academy trust may proceed without one of the sixth forms.

In February, North Walsham and Flegg high schools, and Paston College in North Walsham, and East Norfolk Sixth Form in Gorleston, announced they hoped to come together to form a multi-academy trust.

It followed an announcement by chancellor George Osborne that sixth form colleges could, for the first time, become academies.

Now, North Walsham chair of governors Alex Robinson said the corporation of East Norfolk told the others it was considering creating a separate academy trust, and the three other institutions were developing their plans without it.

He said: 'When that happened, we looked around and thought the original idea and motivation is still valid, and will work, but we need to accelerate the plan we have of bringing primary schools in, because by losing East Norfolk, we lost some volume. We have brought primary schools into the discussions earlier than we intended.'

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However, Catherine Richards, principal of East Norfolk Sixth Form College, said no final decision had been made.

She said: 'I think it's premature to say any avenue is closed. All options are open. From East Norfolk's perspective, we are very much still exploring what's in the best interests of young people.'

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She added: 'We are in discussions with our funding bodies and the regional schools commissioner [who oversees academies]. We are still exploring all the options, and that includes North Walsham, Flegg and Paston.'

Mr Robinson said: 'It's right to say nothing is ruled out, but the plan we are working on at the moment is a plan for North Walsham, Flegg, and Paston. It's a plan that is separate from whatever East Norfolk's corporation might be developing for their own initiative.

'If they decide in the course of their developments that the four-way partnership is the best way forward, that's still possible, but we are not actively writing that plan at the moment.'

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