Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Worries Grow over Shift to Academies; Report Throws School Moves into Doubt

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Worries Grow over Shift to Academies; Report Throws School Moves into Doubt

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

STUDENTS in Northumberland could see their education and personal development harmed if more of the county's 179 schools choose to become academies, a new report has warned.

Education officials say Government plans to allow more schools to achieve academy status could fracture relationships which have been build up among the county's schools in recent years, with a consequent impact on pupils.

They have also voiced concerns that central funding to support all of Northumberland's schools will be hit if further academies are set up under the coalition's new moves to drive up standards.

Yesterday the National Union of Teachers echoed the concerns, claiming moves to establish more academies are a clear threat to a fully comprehensive and fair education system.

Northumberland currently has two all-age academies - Bede Academy in Blyth and the Church of England Academy covering Ashington's Hirst school partnership. Both were set up with support from external sponsors.

The Department for Education is considering an application for a third in Bedlington.

The county council strongly supported the creation of the Blyth and Ashington academies, but now education officials have sounded a warning about the potentially negative impacts of more being set up.

The Academies Act 2010 was introduced by the Government to allow many more schools to become academies, giving them the freedom and flexibility to continue driving up standards.

In a report to the council's family and children's services overview and scrutiny committee this week, head of early years and schools, Tony Mays, says further academies in Northumberland could "break" relationships which have been built up between local school partnerships since the county's critical Ofsted report in 2003.

He claims this could have a negative impact on pupils' attainment and personal development. …

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