Fresh doubt over city academy plan

Fresh questions surround the future of a controversial bid to build an academy school in Norwich as city councillors were urged to reject the proposal.

Fresh questions surround the future of a controversial bid to build an academy school in Norwich as city councillors were urged to reject the proposal.

Heartsease High School could get £19.3m from the government and £2m in private investment to turn it into a Christian academy school as part of ambitious plans by millionaire businessman Graham Dacre, backed by the Bishop of Norwich.

Supporters believe the academy will transform the fortunes of youngsters in the area and help raise standards, and Mr Dacre has hinted that the money could go elsewhere if the scheme fails to get the go-ahead and he had already been approached to back academies elsewhere in the city.

But city councillors are being urged to reject the scheme as part of a consultation exercise into the plans.

A report by the city's scrutiny committee, which will be considered by all councillors at a special meeting on Wednesday, warned that there was a lack of democratic accountability surrounding the academy and it could have an adverse effect on neighbouring schools.

It said that Heartsease was an improving school and the proposal could also stall if the city gets its way to become a new unitary council

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"There is no guarantee that investing huge sums in new build will automatically make a successful school," it said. "There were also major environmental concerns regarding demolishing the whole school rather than updating the existing infrastructure.

"Heartsease High has had difficulties but is an improving school and has had considerable success, particularly in respect of 'value added'.

"Suddenly doubling the size of the school could negate all the good work done."

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