Backwell School to become an academy

BACKWELL School could become an academy by April next year.

The school’s governing body agreed to apply to become an academy at a meeting on Wednesday after an extensive consultation with parents, staff, students, North Somerset Council and its link primary schools.

Headteacher Julian Baldwin said: “The governors and I believe that becoming an academy will enable us to carry on providing our students with an outstanding education and learning experience in and out of the classroom.

“It will be an exciting time, but Backwell’s aims and values will not change. We will remain a completely comprehensive school serving our local community.

“We will be working closely with other schools in North Somerset and beyond, and with North Somerset local authority.”

The school is now working with its consultant from the Department of Education to prepare to become an academy by April 2011.

Mr Baldwin added: “For many years, Backwell School has stood out, not just for the excellence of its examination results but for the excellence of the all round educational experience that it offers.

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“The decision to apply to become an academy is not just a purely financial one, nor is it based on political reasons. “The governors of the school believe it will help us to do what we do well better. We believe it is in the best interests of the present and future students who make up our community and will enable us to ensure that excellence over the coming years.”

As Backwell School was judged outstanding by Ofsted it was given the opportunity to become an academy.

Schools which become academies have more control over their finances as they receive their funding directly from the Government, rather than through the local authority which deducts money for the services it provides to all schools.

About seven per cent of Backwell’s student funding is retained by North Somerset. This year Backwell would have received �524,000 more if it had been an academy.

It would then have had to buy in any services it needed, but the school estimates it would have had an extra �400,000 to spend. An academy also has more freedom over the curriculum it offers its students.

In May this year the secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, announced legislation which will allow the secretary of state to approve applications from schools that wish to become academies.

The purpose of the legislation is to help schools raise standards for their students and to allow them to benefit from more freedom and flexibility.