Falmouth's St Francis and King Charles primary schools to join forces in new academy

First published in News

TWO of Falmouth’s primary schools, one outstanding and the other fighting to come out of special measures, could soon become academies under a single trust which would see them share a headteacher and forge closer links.

Academies enjoy freedom from local authority control, have the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff, enjoy more freedom around the delivery of the curriculum; and have the ability to change the lengths of terms and school days.

They are controversial because while some might see freedom from local council control as a good thing, others fear the loss of democratic accountability and the back-office efficiency-savings achieved through membership of a large “educational family.”

Teaching unions are opposed to academies because they fear reduced pay and less certainty in their working conditions. The Anti-Academies Alliance said the recent removal of 10 schools from a large national academy chain was “the most spectacular failure in British post war education history. No Local Authority ever failed so dismally. Even when Islington Council’s education service was deemed beyond repair in the mid 1990s it only had 3 ‘failing’ secondary schools!”

Consultation is currently being carried out with staff, parents and other stakeholders and if all goes according to plan, St Francis School and King Charles Schools will link to create the Killigrew Church of England Multi Academy Trust, to be known as The Killigrew Partnership.

Meetings outlining the proposal have already been held with staff and parents will be invited to hear all about the plans next Tuesday and Thursday. If they are approved, the transition to the trust could happen by September, but nothing has been decided yet.

Claire Fortey, who is head of St Francis and has been interim head of King Charles since the school was placed in special measures last year, said: “This is a time of great change and innovation in the world of education and many schools are facing a series of challenges in terms of staffing, budgets and making the best use of resources.

“With this in mind, the governing bodies of both King Charles and St Francis Schools have been working closely to investigate ways of moving forward to secure the best possible education for the children in each school and the opportunity to be part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) has now become a reality.

“This is an exciting time for our schools, with the potential to strengthen links, and to share expertise and services. Most importantly, it presents itself as an opportunity for providing excellent learning opportunities and standards for our children.

“To this end, it is important to remember that if the schools do not adopt academy status, many aspects of school life will, in fact, stay the same, including the leadership structure. Above all, they will continue to be caring, thriving, energetic places with a strong Christian ethos, where every child matters and a high regard is maintained for the communities of which we are a part.”

St Francis School is rated as outstanding while King Charles was put into special measures last summer, but has already received one glowing report from Ofsted and has just undergone a second, successful inspection.

The aim is that both schools will share expertise and best practice, but it is all dependent on the outcome of the current talks. “If the consultation shows this is the right model for both schools, because none of us know that at the moment, it will happen quite quickly because there is no reason for it not to,” said Mrs Fortey.

“We would not be considering this as an option if we did not feel it is a positive proposal for both schools. If there are more things we need to find out (at the end of the consultation) we will continue - there is no rush.”

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