High school named town’s first academy

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St Michael’s CE High School has been announced as Chorley’s first academy.

The Astley Road institution appears on the latest list of 97 schools released by the Government that have changed from council control to becoming semi-independent academies.

In total, there are now 801 around the country meaning that they account for more than 20 per cent of all secondary schools in England.

Headteacher Chris Bagguley believes this will help the school to coninue meeting the needs of their pupils.

He said: “All schools feel that there are going to be financial cuts in future.

“Last year, we were the lowest funded high school in the local authority and could not sustain further cuts to our budget.

“We would have been forced to reduce our staff and that would affect the children and their quality of education.

“This will give us financial freedom to move forward like we have done over the past five years where we have consistently improved our GCSE results.

“We are only the second school in the Blackburn diocese to have been given academy status.

“The governors have decided to keep the same name of St Michael’s run by the Church of England Academy Trust and it means we can carry on developing with a Christian dimension to our teaching.”

St Michael’s has consistently been one of the best performing schools in Lancashire and it is a year since they applied to the Department of Education.

Mr Bagguley added: “It has been a long drawn out process to get legal aspects sorted out but we are delighted.

“There are a lot of schools following our example and they will find it easier because the legal agreements have been done and dusted by insitutions like ours.”

Freda Armstrong, chair of the board of governors, said: “We announced the decision at the Summer music concert and the children were delighted.”

Meanwhile, one of their neighbours Parklands High School has also expressed an interest in becoming an academy by sending letters to parents to get their views.

The announcement of 801 new academies was welcomed by Schools Minister Lord Hill.

He said: “One in five secondary schools now enjoy the freedoms that academy status brings – with hundreds more in the pipeline.

“I am particularly pleased that through the Academies programme some of our best head teachers are reaching out to other schools, working with them to raise standards for local children.

“The best way of improving schools is by getting professionals who have already done an excellent job to spread their expertise.”