Primary school’s academy move

Newport Community School set to control its own destiny with special status

A BARNSTAPLE primary school looks set to become one of only a handful of North Devon schools to gain academy status.

Newport Community School will take control of its own budget, curriculum and teachers’ pay and conditions from August 1, pending approval from the Department for Education.

It is one of around 830 UK schools to apply to become an academy school, meaning it would be funded directly by the government rather than the local education authority, in this case Devon County Council.

Newport will join Bradworthy Primary Academy, which became the region’s first academy school on March 1. Pilton Community College and Great Torrington Community School have both “expressed an interest” in becoming academy schools and according to the DfE, their applications are also awaiting approval.

Chulmleigh Community College is understood to be exploring the possibility of becoming an academy school in a “federation” with Chulmleigh County Primary School, East Worlington Primary School and Burrington Primary School.

In a newsletter to parents, Newport head teacher Andy Cotton said allowing the school to deploy its resources in the way it chooses would be a step forward for the school.

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“I am excited about the opportunity to further tailor the school’s resources and curriculum to the needs of the local community,” he said.

“Since the mid 1990’s schools have become self managing bodies, taking responsibility for their own budgets and purchasing services on the open market; becoming an academy seems like taking the next logical step.”

Mr Cotton said Newport would be free to explore changes to its curriculum to meet the needs of children at the school.

“I can assure any doubters that this will not mean a lowering of standards. The team at Newport have worked very hard over recent years to ensure standards rise and I will be looking for any changes in the curriculum to raise standards further and challenge our current position.”

According to the DfE, 629 Academy schools have opened so far, compared to 203 in May 2010. A further 473 are waiting to convert.

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