Mill Hill’s bid for academy status

Parents and carers are being asked for their views on proposals to convert Mill Hill School into an academy.

The Ripley school has been asked by The West Bridgford School in Nottinghamshire to form a Multi-Academy Trust, which would see the two schools enter into a partnership.

Mill Hill says the partnership would allow the two schools to share teaching expertise and best practice and Mill Hill would benefit from ‘the experienced leadership team’ at West Bridgford.

The Department for Education has approved the conversion but a consultation, ending on May 22, is being held before a final decision is made.

Richard Johnson, chairman of governors, said: “We believe formalisation of this partnership with an outstanding school would help us pursue a strategy of improvement in both our school environment and outcomes for schools.

“A move towards academy status as part of a Multi-Academy Trust is seen as the next logical and progressive step for us, to empower all those who have an interest in the school and wish to see it flourish further still.”

An academy is a publicly funded independent school which is free to operate outside a range of Government legislation.

In a letter to parents, governors said that being freed from the constraints of the National Curriculum would ‘empower teachers to use their professional expertise to teach in more innovative and stimulating ways whilst improving further our standards...’

It also means the school’s budget will be received directly and the school anticipates this would ‘result in more money.’

Rob McDonough, head of the West Bridgford School, said Mill Hill would benefit from his experience as a head teacher, an OFSTED officer and a representative for schools on Department for Education committees — particularly following the departure of Mill Hill head Sarah Graham last year.

He said the schools could centralise some resources, like human resources, and make savings on things like software licenses and legal support.

It would also, he said, give opportunities for teachers to develop professionally.

However, teaching unions have been critical of the academy scheme amid concerns over pay and conditions, and in some cases have tried to resist conversion with strike action.

Unleashing Greatness, a 2013 report by the Academies Commission, concluded that, while there have been examples of success, this is not common and many schools in disadvantaged areas ‘have done just as well as those which embarked on the academy route’.

The report also found that though a lot of money and attention were directed towards around 200 schools, they didn’t perform noticeably better than similar schools.

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