Stourbridge school chiefs on collision course with parents over academy plan (From Stourbridge News)
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Stourbridge school chiefs on collision course with parents over academy plan
11:00am Thursday 8th November 2012 in News
PARENTS and teachers at a top Stourbridge school are on a collision course with governors over plans for academy status.
Bosses at Redhill School will vote later this month on whether to apply to move out of local authority control by becoming an academy.
The proposal, which is open for consultation until Friday November 9, sparked the formation of an opposition group called Redhill Schools Concern.
Redhill Schools Concern spokesperson, Pauline Faux, said: “The school has recently had a glowing Ofsted report. No convincing case has been advanced to justify putting that at risk by turning the school into an academy.
"Why change something that is working so well? The governors should listen to those they are there to represent and drop these proposals."
Objectors fear the change could lead to alterations in term times, admissions policy and the curriculum, while promises by the school's current chiefs may not be kept by future administrations.
They also say governors at the Junction Road school will not be locally accountable and there would be no council back-up to cope with unforeseen situations like emergency repairs.
Governors say if the school becomes an academy there are no plans for changes to admission criteria while term times would be set to match others in the area.
Supporters of the plan also argue by cutting its ties with the local authority, Redhill would get extra cash which would otherwise go to Dudley Council.
Stourbridge Conservative MP Margot James, who is on the school's board of governors, said: "I'm very much in favour of going to academy status, the evidence shows schools do better when they are managing their own resources.
"Just because a school is good doesn't mean to say it can't improve and I am confident governors now and in the future will make decisions in the best interests of the school."
Campaigners say many Redhill teachers are against the change and ironically the school's staff includes Paula Roe, who is president of the NASUWT, Britain's biggest teaching union.
Mrs Roe, who has previously said the coalition government only cares about privatisation and deregulation, declined to comment on the plan - because she is a teacher at Redhill.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “This whole process is now causing unnecessary turbulence and disturbance to staff, pupils and parents and proving an immense distraction at a time when all the staff want to do is focus on the job of maintaining high standards."
Redhill headteacher, Stephen Dunster, said: "We have always worked in partnership with our community and local schools and will make sure this remains the case.
"The governors are committed to preserving and further enhancing our position as an outstanding non-selective school for Stourbridge."
Redhill Schools Concern is holding a gathering at Stourbridge town clock, Market Street, on Saturday November 10 at 11am.
Campaigners are also planning to picket a governors meeting on Monday November 19, when a final decision will be made on applying for academy status.
If the application is approved by the Department for Education, Redhill would aim to convert on April 1 2013.
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