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Stourbridge college boss has "grave concerns" as academy debate rages
8:30am Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
AS the debate over academy status for Redhill school continues a Stourbridge college boss's "grave concerns" have been revealed.
In a letter to the chairman of governors at the Junction Road campus, King Edward VI College principal Sharon Phillips says the school is underestimating the burden of academy status and has a lack of understanding of financial matters.
The bombshell comments blast holes in a consultation document which the college supremo says does not answer questions about how the school as an academy would cope with future uncertainties.
She said: "In general terms one might argue that the school is taking a significant risk with its future and the futures of current and potential pupils, without having adequate safeguards in place.
"I suggest a period of financial austerity is not the time to take such a risk."
If Redhill governors vote for the school to become an academy they will be taking on responsibility for running the school and getting more cash from central government.
Ms Phillips says she is not against academy school status but she argues - while Redhill does well at the moment - its consultation document does not show the school could cope with the extra challenges of being outside local authority control.
She said: "Managing the school as a legal and financial entity has far greater implications, in both workload and cost terms, than are implied by the reference to "additional work for our business manager and team" which would "have to be kept under review".
"More importantly, the reference entirely misses the point that the school would have a different and higher order of responsibility."
Ms Phillips' school report also gives low marks for Redhill's plans to open a sixth form, which she says they could not afford.
She said: "On the basis of the usual set sizes in small sixth forms which offer students a good range of choice, your sixth form will barely cover its direct teaching costs and the matter of it making a contribution to the school's overheads is completely out of the question.
"Maintaining the financial viability of Redhill School is, I am sure, a matter which the governors take seriously."