Bungay High School considers academy possibility

BUNGAY High School is consulting with parents and governors about the prospect of becoming an academy.

The school has asked for their views as it considers leaving local authority control.

Governors at the school are due to meet next week and high on their agenda is a discussion into the possibility of it becoming an academy.

The move would see the school step away from local authority control, providing it with the freedom to set its own pay and conditions for staff, deliver the curriculum and change the length of its terms and school days.

Headteacher Sean O’Neill has written about the issue on his school blog, but declined to go into further detail when approached by The Journal.

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On the blog, Mr O’Neill has asked for views on the subject, either for or against it.

He said: “These are difficult times in schools at the moment. The new government has introduced a number of new measures about running schools and what should be taught in them.

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“The local authority are having to make cuts and these are impacting on schools.

“We are now being offered opportunities to move away from the local authority and run ourselves as an academy with funding directly from the DFE (The Department for Education).”

But plans for academies have met with resistance from teaching unions who are worried about their impact on the rights of teachers.

Graham White, Suffolk secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said he was opposed to them.

“The concern is academies do not have to follow the national curriculum, they can alter it. They do not have national pay and conditions or have to follow what is called the Burgundy Book – about sick pay and redundancies. They can operate almost any way they like at all,” he said.

Mr White also raised worries about the inability to use the Freedom of Information Act on schools once they have left local authority control.

Bungay High’s consultation comes after the coalition government announced legislation last year for outstanding and good schools to become academies.

The school, which has over 900 pupils, was rated as good in a 2008 Ofsted inspection and regularly achieves impressive exam results. Previously the academy idea was focused on worse performing secondary schools.

This expansion has led to a number of other schools across the region to consider the option, with Wymondham High School undergoing a consultation process, while Cromer High School’s governors have recently approved a move towards the status.

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