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Oxford's Cherwell school opts for academy status
OXFORD’S most over-subscribed and only outstanding-rated secondary school is to become an academy.
And the Cherwell School, the city’s largest, with about 1,800 pupils, is also investigating the possibility of linking up with Cutteslowe Primary School to form a multi-academy trust.
Headteacher Paul James said the financial gain could amount to an additional £1m to spend over the next five years.
He said: “The financial position facing the school remaining as a local authority school, in comparison to making the most of financial opportunities presented by academy status, has played a very large part in the decision-making process.
“In schools, where the vast majority of your budget is spent on staffing, if budgets get cut it will have an impact on curriculum choice, class size and teacher contact.
“I believe our current curriculum and levels of staffing are very much part of the success of the school. We want to protect that.”
During consultation on the proposals, there were responses from a total of 42 people, with 14 more attending drop-in information events, which amounts to a three per cent response rate.
The school name, uniform and admissions policies and staff terms and conditions will remain un-changed when the school leaves county council control.
Mr James said: “As with some of the respondents to the consultation, we share concerns regarding the Academies programme and the broader, longer-term implications for the national education system.
“Academies are becoming part of the landscape of education and it’s in that context that we have made the decision to continue to pursue this, given that the financial situation will benefit the school and benefit our partnership working.”
Cutteslowe Primary School last week announced it was consulting about seeking academy status after going into special measures, and was seeking to forge ties with a well-performing school.
As part of the Cherwell Partnership, the school already receives support from the secondary school in subject specialist groups and professional development for staff.
If it is decided to link the two schools and share some services, specially-trained sixth-formers from Cherwell could go into the primary to support literacy and numeracy, one-to-one tuition and booster groups.
Mr James said: “Exactly what that would look like, how it would be staffed and costed, is part of the investigations currently taking place.
“Demonstrating we’re committed to our community and investing in children who will eventually be students at the Cherwell School is important.
“If we’re supporting them in Years Five and Six, they will have the best chance of success when they join us in Year Seven.”
He said the plans would not affect the way in which Cherwell works with the other 10 primaries, nursery and special schools within the Cherwell Partnership, or links with other Oxford secondaries.
The school could become an academy by April 1. A decision on a formal link with Cutteslowe will take place after the primary’s consultation ends on Friday, February 10.