Heanor Gate Science College is one of the largest and most successful secondary schools in Heanor and Ripley.
It was recently judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted and, in line with other outstanding schools across the country, has been invited by the Government to become an Academy. The Governing Body has therefore been consulting on the proposals for the change for over a year.
Everyone with a child at the school, and much of the wider community as well, will have been affected by the recent strike action by a number of the teachers protesting against these proposals, but what does academy status actually mean for the school.
Most schools in Derbyshire are currently run by the Local Authority, i.e. Derbyshire County Council. This means that the budgets, curriculum and admissions policy are set by the County, and teachers are actually employees of the Council (although they are appointed by the Headteacher and Governing Body of the individual school in which they work). The Local Authority provide a number of services for their schools, such as HR and Payroll, Financial and legal advice and, in some cases, buildings management, depending on the services that the school 'buys' from the County each year.
As an academy, the schools funding comes directly from Central Government, and actually includes an uplift of 10%, which comes from the money not therefore taken to cover the LA's central services. Teachers and staff are employed by the Governing Body, which is usually set up as a Charitable Trust or a Limited Company, and the school is free to set its own admissions policy and curriculum, although they are still bound to deliver a broad education and administer the national Key Stage and GCSE/A Level exams at given points in a child's education. Academies are also still subject to Ofsted inspections.
Academies are able to attract private sector funding, and have greater autonomy to implement different ways of teaching and learning, often involving innovation and more creative methodologies. All have a specialist status, and can implement selection policies to attract able students to those specialist disciplines.
So what are the plans for Heanor Gate as an Academy?
Rob Howard, the Headteacher, and Andrew Collington, the Chair of Governors have recently written to all parents and interested parties and have set out their plans for the proposed Academy, including:
and in terms of the position of the staff:
From what we can see, if there is a strong and capable leadership in a school, and they are able to sustain a clear focus on the quality of teaching and learning as well as good financial and staff management principles, there should be no negative impact on the standards of the school from a change to Academy status.
Given the judgement of Ofsted on the current leadership, this should present no problems for Heanor Gate, and the strong ethos in place should allow them to benefit from increased opportunities to innovate, develop and grow in a way that meets the needs of the children, staff, parents and wider community.
Extension to the Consultation Period
The governing body will be making a decision on the change on 13th September and has extended the deadline for responses and views to be submitted to 9th September. The Governors are very keen to take into account the views of all members of the community and welcome any and all feedback.
Responses can be submitted either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to
c/o Chair of Governors
Heanor Gate Science College
Derbyshire DE75 7RA
Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi, I'm Sarah. I've lived in Heanor with my family for over 10 years and I'm passionate about our beautiful little corner of this historical county. If you know of something that's great about our area,...