THE Kimberley School has made the first steps towards becoming an academy, it has been revealed.
Headteacher at the school Chris Teal made the move towards taking control of the school by registering an interest for academy status with the Department for Education last Wednesday.
If the school became an academy it would mean instead of being run by Nottinghamshire County Council as it currently is, it would be run by a team of school governors who would have the freedom to change things such as the curriculum and dictate the intake of pupils.
A campaign group has already been launched against the proposals, called Save Kimberley School.
The group says it wants the school to continue ‘belonging to its community’ and claim there is no evidence that this would improve the level of education.
But headteacher Chris Teal said there was a ‘political will’ for all schools nationwide to eventually become academies, and if The Kimberley School did not follow suit, he feared it could be left behind.
He said: “There seems to be a political will within the local authority to encourage schools to become academies and it’s clear the intention of national Government is for all schools to become academies at some point in the future.
“The governors and myself are acutely aware that many secondary schools across Nottinghamshire are either seriously considering academy status, are already in the process of gaining it, or already have it.
“Would the authority have the will to support us if we were the only school left?
“We need to consider whether to become an academy or stay with the local authority that some would say is rapidly losing any control.”
Mr Teal also said it would be good for teachers to have the power to alter the curriculum and said the school would ‘more than likely’ get more money as an academy which would ultimately help it to ‘protect’ its reputation.
“Over the last four years we have seen our results increase and our reputation grow,” he said. “What we don’t want to now happen is we find schools around us are gaining resources by becoming academies and ours is getting left behind.
“We want to secure the position of this school. If we have autonomy we can protect what we have here.”
Mr Teal said a good indication of Government long-term plans was the invite he had to a talk by the Department for Education which will look at what the education system would look like if all schools were academies.
But organisers of the campaign group against the plans say becoming an academy would allow the school to opt out of national agreements on pay and conditions and give teachers the power to be ‘selective’ over who they want at the school.
And the headteacher admitted there was a lot of uncertainty and worry in school with teachers asking if they would be made to work at weekends and if their pay would change but moved to lay their fears at rest.
“Teachers are concerned for their paying conditions but we have no intention of changing that,” he added. “There’s a lot of uncertainty which I can fully understand.”
At present the school has only ‘registered an interest’ with the Department for Education’ and Mr Teal said a decision has not yet been taken.
A public consultation over the plans will begin at the beginning of next term.
For more information out about the campaign to Save Kimberley School visit savekimberleyschool.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Kimberley-School.