Academy status could be imposed on school

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A FAILING Chorley primary school could be forced to become an academy and have its governing body scrapped.

The recommendations for Highfield Primary School have been made in a letter from Lord John Nash, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, to the leader of Lancashire County Council, Geoff Driver.

He has proposed that the Wright Street school should become an academy, which would see it directly funded from Government and free from local authority control.

Lord Nash has also called for the governing body, which is made up of 14 people, including parents and members of the community, to be scrapped and replaced with an interim executive board of experienced professionals.

The school was placed in to special measures by Ofsted in 2011 and a
follow-up inspection last year criticised the improvements as ‘inadequate’.

In his letter, seen by the Guardian, Lord Nash wrote: “We firmly believe the school faces very significant challenges and that change is required in order to secure sustainable improvement.”

Chairman of governors, Andy Purcell said: “I can confirm we have received notification from the Department of Education about the possibility of introducing an interim executive board at Highfield Primary School.

“We remain unconvinced that an IEB would add greater value to the school than the current governors.

“The governors are in the process of drafting a very robust reply detailing our action. The school’s governing body are fully behind the school and its staff.”

Lancashire’s education authority has been supporting the school by sending in advisors and action plans have been implemented by subject leaders for assessment, numeracy, literacy, teaching and learning, curriculum and special needs.

The town’s MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “I fully support
the governors at Highfield School in their attempt to ensure that we have local representation on any future governing body.

“The governors understand the needs of the local community and if we are to ensure the school moves forward to provide quality education we have to maintain local representatives.

“The school has been through a difficult period and I will be working with the governors to ensure that future reforms work to the benefit of local children.”

County Coun Driver said: “We have received a letter from Lord Nash seeking our views on the proposal to appoint an interim executive board at Highfield Primary.

“We will respond by February 13, in consultation with the school and taking into consideration the best way forward for them.”