St Albans schools launch bid to win Academy status

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 June 2010

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AT LEAST six schools in the St Albans district are considering applying for academy status with funding directly from the Department for Education.

Three of them - Sandringham, Loreto College and Heathlands - have already been graded outstanding by the inspection service Ofsted putting them in the second wave of schools who can apply for the new status.

Interest has also been expressed by Beaumont, St Albans Girls School and Verulam who have not been graded outstanding but believe they could benefit.

Academies not only come out of direct local authority control but they can also deal with their own admissions and set their own admission arrangements if they wish.

They have to continue to provide free education for students who are wholly or mainly drawn from the surrounding area but they can select up to 10 per cent of children by aptitude.

Sandringham on The Ridgeway, St Albans, has already contacted parents about the possibility of switching to Academy status.

Lin Keen, chair of governors, told parents that the school felt it was an exciting opportunity which would secure the future for Sandringham and its community and further strengthen the work taking place at the school and elsewhere.

She went on: “As governors we wish to reflect on all aspects of academy status before reaching a decision. What we are all clear about is that Sandringham is an outstanding school and we wish to build on this success without changing our core values.”

She stressed that Sandringham would want to continue to work with its partner schools, Beaumont and Verulam in the post-16 consortium and maintain close links with the county council with which Sandringham has always had, “an excellent relationship”.

The school is recommending that admissions would continue to follow the county council admission rules if it became an academy and would “almost certainly” not want to select pupils by aptitude.

A consultation meeting for parents is being held next Wednesday evening in the school’s main hall.

blob* New volunteers are being sought to join the governing bodies of county schools.

The schools have teamed up with the national charity School Governors’ One-Stop Shop (SGOSS) to recruit new governors and stress that all prospective volunteers do not need to be parents nor have firsthand experience of the education system.

Anyone over the age of 18 from any background, who can go to an average of two to four evening meetings a term, can apply. For more details contact Sam Butlin at SGOSS on 0207 288 9537 or email sam.butlin@sgoss.org.uk

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