By MARK BOGGIS
Friday, March 4, 2011
LOWESTOFT’S biggest school will break new ground this year, when it becomes Waveney’s first academy.
Kirkley Community High School will assume academy status from September in a move hailed by its headteacher this week as “really, really positive news” for its pupils, teaching staff and the local community.
The latest development, which coincides with a major reorganisation of schooling in Lowestoft that will see education in the town switch from three tiers to two in the autumn, follows an announcement last year by Suffolk County Council that Kirkley was being fast-tracked into becoming an academy as part of a review of National Challenge Schools programme.
However, that process was held up by the general election and a subsequent change of government.
From September, Kirkley will be sponsored by the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) – which has the slogan ‘To make our best better’ – and which also includes Clacton Coastal Academy in Essex and the prospective Felixstowe Academy. It is a multi-Academy Trust, which means it is able to manage any number of schools and academies.
With five other schools in Suffolk having already taken on academy status, and seven in Norfolk, staff and governors from the school in Kirkley Run were told of the changes during a meeting with headteacher Richard Pickard this week.
He told the Journal that he was delighted the plan was now moving forward again.
“As you are well aware of our relatively recent past, we’ve been on special measures and there has been a deficit in the budget,” Mr Pickard said. “To become an academy will be a major benefit to all the pupils and the community in the local area: this is really, really positive news and something that will provide a real statement for Lowestoft.”
Following the Schools Organisation Review, Kirkley will be accepting children aged from 11 to 16 from Setpember – moving away from the 13 to 18 comprehensive schooling, which has been the case at the school for decades.
Graham Newman, county councillor with responsibility for schools and young people, said: “Changing to academy status at the same time as moving to an 11-16 school presents the school with a once in a lifetime ‘fresh start’. By appointing a very experienced sponsor who is able to provide strong leadership and support services, the school will be supported in bringing about a step change in pupil performance and enable it to be removed from special measures as quickly as possible.
“The county council has a responsibility to ensure all children in Suffolk have access to a good school and will support proposals for Academies and Free Schools where they complement the council’s aim of improving standards for young people... Regardless of status the county council will continue to encourage all schools to work together for the benefit of young people in the county.”
A spokesman for AET said: “The Academies Enterprise Trust is delighted to become the sponsor of a new Academy in Lowestoft.”
In the past few weeks, Kirkley has also been working with Comberton Village College in Cambridge as part of the move to establishing school-to-school partnerships in which outstanding schools support other schools within their region.
Mr Pickard confimed that as part of the sponsorship deal - which would help put Kirkley on “an even keel” - the school would also be helped out by Samuel Ward School at Haverhill which already has Academy status.
l For more on the changes at Kirkley, be sure to buy next week’s Journal.
l What do you think about the developments to education in Lowestoft? Are academies the way forward for our schools? Write to Postbox, The Journal, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1NB or e-mail email@example.com and be please include your name and address.