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Tuesday, 07 June 2011 (3015686)
Public meeting on Southport academies
by Natasha Young

A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Southport this week, amid concerns that schools in the town are not consulting properly and will not benefit from switching to academies.

The event, taking place at the Prince of Wales Hotel tomorrow (Thursday), will welcome those for and against Greenbank High and Birkdale High School taking on the new status to debate their views.

It will be attended by the Anti Academies Alliance as well as union members, and follows on from meetings that recently took place to address the same issues elsewhere in the borough.

David Evans, a local representative of the teaching union NASUWT, said: “We're not attacking academies but we're concerned that the seven schools here are not consulting with parents and giving a biased view.

”The only improvement from becoming and academy is likely to sadly be for the senior managers. There's nothing in it for the kids that they are not already getting.

“They will get money from the Government but they'll have to buy in services that were provided by the council.”

Academy status is being offered to schools by the Government and is said to give schools more freedom on decisions such as wages, working conditions and the length of terms and school days, while freeing them from local authority and national government control.

One teacher, who can not be named, said: “We're worried that we're not being told very much about it. We have 20 governors and they are deciding the future of the school.

”What I hope the meeting will achieve is that it will open people's eyes here. People say there's money in it but I don't think there is really, and we have a lot of freedom in the curriculum as it is.“

However, both Birkdale High and Greenbank High have hit back at claims they have not consulted properly.

Birkdale's headteacher, Gary Loveridge, said: ”We've had full consultation with parents on a paper basis.“

He added that a meeting, which was attended by around 120 people, followed the paper consultation to go over everyone's positive and negative points.

”There seemed to be no parental opposition full stop. There might be in other schools,“ said Mr Loveridge, who suggested the possible switch to an academy was about ”tailoring“ the school to the needs of its pupils due to the freedom it would have on its spending.

Pat McQuade, headteacher at Greenbank High, added: ”We are currently engaged in a full consultation process. Trade union representatives have come in to school to speak to staff and will meet with governors next week. Parents ranging from Year 6 to next year’s Year 11 have been sent by post the full consultation document and also an invitation to a meeting to express their views.

“We believe we will have greater flexibility to respond to the ever changing needs of our pupils and we wish to maintain and build on our current outstanding curriculum.

”We are committed to remaining at the heart of the community continuing to develop partnerships with primary schools and all stakeholders should be reassured that the governors will take into account all views when coming to a decision.“

Tomorrow's meeting at the Prince of Wales starts at 7pm.


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