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Tuesday, 26 July 2011 (3017148)
Academy status will 'sustain' Birkdale High during cuts, says headteacher
by Natasha Young

BIRKDALE High School's new academy status will help protect the school from “swingeing” council cuts, the headteacher has claimed.

After becoming the first of the town's schools to finalise the decision to convert, Gary Loveridge told The Champion: “We want a choice over what we spend all of our money on.

”We have pupils with special needs and need to plough money into special needs and vulnerable pupils' provisions.

“We also feel that the local authority is in a difficult position at the moment because the swingeing cuts.”

But the decision, which will see the Windy Harbour Road school officially become an academy on August 1, comes after a string of anti academy protests across the borough over recent months and calls for schools to hold a parental ballot over the decision.

The process allows schools to be free from local authority and national government control with freedom to set their own pay and conditions for staff, the ability to change the lengths of terms and school days and freedoms on the delivery of the curriculum.

Southport's MP John Pugh, however, has criticised the school's decison to switch and its refusal to ballot parents over the issue.

“I'm disappointed in the decision and in the reluctance to hold a ballot,” said Mr Pugh.

“It's a great petty that the future of community assets is being decided by a very limited group of people that happen to be governors of a particular institution at a particular time and I believe we should have a wider mandate to make these decisions.”

Mr Loveridge went on to defend the amount of consultation that had been carried out by the school over the decision.

“Although there was no ballot, he explained that there had been consultations with staff and parents, including an open meeting for parents, and the school had consulted parents of Year 6 children preparing to move up to secondary school.

He added that while many staff had welcomed the decision to go ahead with the status some hadn't.

He said: ”Some people's objections are political but I'm looking to what sorts us out better at the moment.

“We looked very carefully when we got the financial agreement and the financial situation makes it worthwhile for us to convert.

”We've said very very clearly that all it does is sustain all we have got at a time of financial difficulty.“

Mr Loveridge added that the academy status would allow the school to ”maintain the level of teaching“ it has at present, while also being able to tailor its spending towards gifted and talented pupils as well as vulnerable and special needs students.

He said the school would continue to work with the Sefton Council once it has converted, and confirmed a number of council provided services have been taken on until next March, when the school will review which services it still wants to continue.

Meanwhile, the regional negotiating secretary for teaching union NASUWT, Dave Evans said unions are considering taking legal action against the school, claiming it had not complied with all Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations to consult with stakeholders over the decision. He said legal advice was being given from the union's headquarters.

Mr Loveridge said the TUPE consultation was taken carried out by the local authority.


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