Two more successful state schools under threat of closure as a result of academy expansion plans

 

Two more state schools rated “good” or “outstanding” by the education standards watchdog Ofsted are under threat as a result of a flagship academy’s expansion plans.

The threat to two middle schools in Kirklees, Yorkshire – Kirkburton and Scissett – emerged after The Independent revealed how Harrowden Middle School in Bedford, rated good with outstanding features, is to close after a neighbouring academy announced it would be competing for its pupils.

Headteachers’ leaders warned its fate could be mirrored across the country as councils were left with fewer options on school closures as the number of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s academies grew.

In Kirklees, Shelley College -an academy which currently takes in 13 to 18-year-olds- is consulting over plans to extend its remit and start admitting 11-year-olds from September 2014.

Parents at the two middle schools have already launched a protest campaign over the plan – warning that it will pose a threat to their future.

One of them, Scissett, is rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted – scoring top marks in almost every area inspected by the watchdog.

Its report on the school said: “This is an outstanding school... No stone is left unturned in the pursuit of providing the best possible education for pupils through high quality teaching and learning and a rick curriculum.

“Pupils’ enjoyment is plain for all to see their attendance rates are high. Pupils’ behaviour is exemplary at all times.”

Their report on Kirkburton concluded it was “good” with outstanding features, adding: “Their (the pupils’ excellent behaviour and high levels of attendance contribute well to their leasrning. Pupils are very polite, courteous and responsible.”

In its consultation document, Shelley College describes its plan as “a once in a generation opportunity to extend educational choice in our community”.

It says its A-level results put it in the top 25 per cent of schools in England and that it is “one of the most successful schools in the country”.

It warns parents that – if its plan gets the go ahead – it will not be able to guarantee parents a place at the college if they send their children to the middle schools and then seek to transfer at 13.

Stephen Jones, a parent with two children at Kirkburton, said in a letter to his local newspaper: “This is not widening choice, it is removing choice: the choice by parents to continue with the existing excellent three-tier system.”

Kirklees Council is conducting its own investigation into parents’ reaction to the scheme – although it acknowledges it will not be able to stop Shelley College from pressing ahead with its plans.

A spokesman said: “The council’s first priority is to make sure that all local children and young people have the opportunity to attend excellent schools, helping them to achieve their potential.

“If changes are to take place, they must be well-planned and carried out over a reasonable period of time to ensure that we can all have confidence in a stable high-quality system.”

In the case of Harrowden Middle School, the neighbouring academy took over from a struggling secondary school. Despite making satisfactory progress, according to Ofsted, its standards are still below the national average. Its nearest lower school failed its inspection amid speculation it, too, could be turned into an academy.

Meanwhile, Stephen Twigg, Labour’s education spokesman, sounded a note of caution over the drive to create more academies yesterday.

Speaking to a conference of the Independent Academies Association, he said: “Academies have achieved great things... but progress is not limited to academies.”

He added: “The thing that strikes me about what drives successful schools is excellent leadership. Excellence is not the preserve of any one type of school, it is the preserve of exemplary leadership.

“I worry that the principal foundations for successful early academies – that of collaboration and partnership – have been replaced by a fixation on a numbers game.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain