Schools set to form academy trust

First published in Local

CRESTWOOD School in Kingswinford and Edgecliff High School in Kinver are among four schools joining forces to become an academy.

The two schools have teamed up with Ellowes Hall Sports College in Lower Gornal and Ounsdale High School in Wombourne to forge a plan to become a multi-academy trust called Invictus, although the headteachers have stressed that each school will maintain its independence.

Headteacher Chris Rogers at Edgecliff said the proposed trust, named after the poem by William Ernest Henley, would "provide a pretty special environment for students" and it would boost the ability of the schools involved to gain capital funding.

He added: "We firmly believe that by working together we will be able to generate greater capacity for continued progress and improvement in all four schools.

"Clearly the aim of such a venture is to support our continuing work to make Edgecliff the best school it can possibly be and the school’s governors and staff firmly believe this to be a potentially transformational step forward.

"We are totally committed to providing Edgecliff’s students with an outstanding educational experience and this is why we have decided to be a part of this exciting course of action."

Crestwood headteacher Tony Bowles stressed matters such as staff pay and conditions, uniforms and school term dates would not change and he added: "This is a very carefully planned collaboration between our four schools.

"We have been drawn together by the exciting prospect of success and know that together we are stronger and have greater capacity for continued progress.

"We are totally committed to ensuring all our students receive the best possible education and experiences from a vast pool of shared expertise and resources.

"I firmly believe, along with governors and staff, that this is the very best way forward for Crestwood School and our students now and in the future."

Councillor Tim Crumpton, Dudley's cabinet member for education, has long stated his opposition to academies but he said: "I am also on record as stating that if a school in consultation with its local people makes the decision to become an academy then we, the local authority will do all we can to ensure the success of such a move.

"Both headteachers at Ellowes Hall Sports College and Crestwood School advised us they would be moving towards a multi academy trust some weeks ago with two other secondary schools and, I  have no doubt they are doing this for what they will see as good reasons."

Crestwood, Edgecliff and Ounsdale schools are all currently rated as 'requiring improvement', according to Ofsted's website; while Ellowes Hall is ranked as 'outstanding'.

But together they aim to provide "elite educational experiences" for students and "give any school in the country a run for its money".

Governors and staff have already been consulted and Crestwood is due to hold a meeting for parents at 5pm tomorrow (Thursday June 12), while Edgecliff plans to schedule a meeting for parents and stakeholders soon.

The final decision on the change will be made by the Secretary of State for Education and if the go-ahead is given conversion to academy status could take place in November.

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