GOVERNORS at The Kimberley School have done a U-turn on their decision not to become an academy after the money available to make the switch more than doubled.
The team of governors decided in February to stay as a state school because they feared an outside body could come in and jeopardise their recent improvements.
But this week they announced they had changed their minds, after the money available from central Government to become an academy more than doubled compared to what it was back in February.
Headteacher Chris Teal said the finance was too good an opportunity to miss.
“In February governors looked at all the issues surrounding this and came to the conclusion that the financial incentive wasn’t sufficient to make them want to go in that direction.
“However two days after their meeting they became aware that the amount of money on the table to become an academy was more than twice the amount estimated.
“We had a special meeting of governors to review this and decided that given the sum of money on the table we could not ignore the benefits that it could bring to the school.”
But members of the National Union of Teachers have now balloted for strike action, concerned about what academy status will mean for staff salaries and the admission process in to the school.
NUT regional office Nick Raine said: “Originally we over turned it because there were so many teachers against it.
“Last time an overwhelming number of staff rejected it and now they decide to bring it back up and consult during the exam period that they know will be busy for everyone.”
But Mr Teal said he understands the substantial amount is only available for this year.
“As this is likely to be a one off, we felt it was an opportunity that the community would expect us not to miss,” he added. “We can’t ignore the opportunity to bring money into the school. Every school needs money and the amount it stands at currently is only on the table for this year.”
Mr Teal said the threat of the school being taken over was now not as severe as it was, and the school was in the position to become a ‘stand-alone academy’.
As part of the move, the headteacher pledged there would be no changes to pay conditions, the curriculum or the admission process to the school.
“We have been in extensive talks with members of the NASWUT and the governing body has done its level best to assure colleagues that these things will not change,” he said.
A Nottinghamshire County Council spokesman confirmed that if the school became an academy it would be funded directly by the Government but would also receive a further budget allocation – around 10 per cent – which would otherwise have been top-sliced off their budget by the council to buy in services which would have been provided centrally.