More schools seek to opt out

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THREE more Sheffield secondaries are planning to opt out of city council control and become academies - but for differing reasons.

Bradfield, Meadowhead and King Ecgbert schools are consulting with parents on moves which would see them funded directly by central government.

If the proposals are given the go ahead they will join Yewlands and the city’s first wave of academies, Sheffield Springs, Sheffield Park and Parkwood. Tapton’s application is still ensnared in legal red tape.

Bradfield head David Conway said the school’s main motivation for change was the chance to be given the freedom to set up a sixth form.

“We’ve been wanting this for some years but our plans have always been opposed by the local authority which believes there are enough sixth form places already in this part of the city,” he said.

“We will still have to make an application to a central funding body and there is no guarantee of success but our own internal survey shows that around 80 of our students would wish to stay on to take a full range of A-levels.”

Mr Conway added that these would be teenagers who currently travelled to other sixth form schools.

Like Bradfield, Meadowhead is hoping to convert next September, while King Ecgbert hopes to make the switch in the spring.

Meadowhead head Cath James said she was keen to make the most of the financial advantages academy status would bring, initially an extra £300,000 or so a year.

“It will give us the freedom to develop our curriculum and provide better opportunities for pupils with special needs.

“We have long been underfunded - our aim is to improve pupil support services and reduce class sizes,” she added.

King Ecgbert head Lesley Bowes said she was concerned that without academy status standards would suffer due to cuts in sixth-form funding.

”The dilemma we face is how to maintain our high levels of achievement and retain our fantastic staff.

“But we have no intention of withdrawing from the Sheffield community of schools,” she said.