12:00pm Saturday 10th March 2012
By Tom Jennings
PARENTS and Students could see new buildings and enhanced curriculums at West Oxfordshire’s new academies.
But the headteachers at Bartholomew School, in Eynsham, and Chipping Norton School said there will be no rush to ring in the changes.
The schools – the first academies in west Oxfordshire – got Government permission to convert on March 1.
They now have greater control over their budgets, curriculums and staffing levels, previously set by Oxfordshire County Council.
Henry Box School in Witney is consulting on plans to become an academy in June, with Burford School is consulting on plans to convert in July.
Bartholomew School headteacher Andrew Hamilton said: “It is probably the biggest change there has been in the school’s history.
“But we will continue to work closely with the local authority and with Oxfordshire schools for the benefit of our students.
“Students and parents should not notice any immediate difference.
“We will continue to provide the high quality education we do at the moment.
“We have got plans for the further development of buildings on the site and further development of the curriculum in the future.”
He said six to seven per cent of the school’s budget would now be controlled by the school instead of by the county council.
Mr Hamilton added: “Most, if not all, of the schools in West Oxfordshire will become academies in the future.”
Chipping Norton School headteacher Simon Duffy said: “It gives us some opportunities to continue the improvement of the school.
“What we are not going to be doing is making significant changes.
“We are not changing the name, the uniform, staffing or the curriculum.
“But it does give us the freedom over how we spend additional amounts of funding.
“We are going to be looking at how we can most effectively spend the money in the best interests of students.”
Mr Duffy said the school had control over about three per cent of its budget previously controlled by County Hall.
Schools inspectorate Ofsted found Bartholomew to be ‘good’ in 2006 and Chipping Norton to be ‘good’ in 2007.
Melinda Tilley, county council cabinet member for schools improvement, said: “We will do everything we can to help them.
“I am passionate about school attainment and, according to (Education Secretary) Michael Gove, academies improve twice as fast as other schools.”
Cherwell School in North Oxford has opted to become an academy, Wallingford School and King Alfred’s in Wantage became academies last year, and Gillotts School in Henley gained the status on March 1.
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