Stradbroke schools explore academy route

A cluster of north Suffolk schools has begun exploring the possibility of applying for academy status.

Seven headteachers from the Stradbroke Pyramid Partnership, which includes Stradbroke Business and Enterprise College, Stradbroke Primary, Mendham Primary, Wilby Primary, Worlingworth Primary, Fressingfield Primary and All Saint's Primary, in Laxfield, have written a joint letter to parents outlining their intentions.

Each school will be undertaking a consultation process after Easter and any change of status, should it occur, will not be implemented before September this year.

Andrew Bloom, headteacher at Stradbroke Business and Enterprise College, said working together on the issue would build on the long-standing partnership.

He said: 'No doubt all the schools are looking to do the best for their communities and the children in their communities. I think it would be almost negligent not to look at any new ways forward.

'We have a good relationship with the pyramid schools and it seemed like the next step was to look at academy status.'

Academies are directly funded by central government and are given greater operational freedom over their curriculum and contracted services.

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Mr Bloom said each school would be submitting its own application for the status, if they concluded it was a route they wanted to take. Each school would also retain its autonomy and the strength of the existing partnership would 'not diminish' if not all the schools decided to apply.

However if all or some successfully achieved the status, benefits could include further opportunities for collaboration such as the ability to purchase services as a group as a way to make savings.

Meanwhile Wymondham High School has now submitted its application to become an academy following a four-week consultation.

If successful it is hoped the greater freedoms awarded with the status would result in the school being �600,000 better off in its first academic year, providing a cash injection to build new classrooms and upgrade facilities.

Headteacher Victoria Musgrave said most people were in favour of the move.

'Generally we got a lot of interest, there were very, very few objections. We did get one from the teachers' union with concerns about teachers terms and conditions of employment but there will be no changes there,' she said.

She also added that no change will occur to the school's name or uniform. The school hopes to launch as an academy in September.