Seven primary schools in Alnwick Partnership consider academy move

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Seven schools in the Alnwick Partnership are exploring the possibility of converting to academy status.

Primary schools in Seahouses, Shilbottle, Longhoughton, Embleton, Ellingham, Branton and Alnwick’s Swansfield Park are considering the possibility of joining the Pele Trust.

Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick is already part of the Ponteland-based Trust after converting to academy status last year.

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Duchess's Community High School in Alnwick becomes an Academy
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson.Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson.
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson.

A six-week public consultation on the possibility concludes on Friday, June 14.

Seahouses Primary headteacher Vickie Allen, in a letter to parents and carers on behalf of the governing body at the start of the consultation period, wrote: “The governing body has been thoroughly exploring the potential transition towards academy status.

"After careful consideration, we firmly believe that this move is in the best interests of our children, staff, and the wider community of the school.

“As a result of our research and discussions, our current preference is to explore joining the Pele Trust, as we strongly believe that this collaboration would greatly benefit our children, allowing them to experience their full educational journey within one Trust from Early Years to KS4 at the Duchess High School.”

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The governing body will meet at the end of the consultation period to consider all feedback and decide whether to continue with the proposal.

Academisation is the process by which schools move out of the control of local authorities and into charitable (not-for-profit) companies called Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs).

Financially, there could be joint procurement and purchasing opportunities and benefits from being part of a formal family of schools which has been proven to improve educational standards and increase both curricular and extra-curricular opportunities.

A document setting out frequently asked questions and answers has been issued to governors and headteachers at the request of Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member for education at Northumberland County Council,

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He said: "It's completely up to schools if they want to leave the council fold.

"However I felt it was important school leaders had all the relevant information before deciding. Once a school joins a Trust, it can’t leave if it doesn't work out.”

He also raised the possibility of decisions on the school’s direction being made by a Trust board ‘many miles away’.

The council is pushing forward with a new 'Alliance' model which brings together expertise across its schools while letting them keep their independence.

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