Secondaries reach key academies milestone

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SHEFFIELD’s secondary schools have reached a key tipping point - with more than half having left council control, or planning to do so.

The trend for secondaries becoming academies, taking control of their own finances and curriculums, mirrors the national picture where the same milestone has also just been reached.

Rotherham and Barnsley have yet to reach the same figure - but Doncaster schools are well ahead, with 82 per cent on the way to academy status.

In Sheffield the Catholic high schools Notre Dame and All Saints are the latest to have voted to become academies, while parents at Silverdale are to be consulted on the issue.

King Ecgbert, Meadowhead, Fir Vale and Bradfield have already gone down the same route this year, while Chaucer is seeking to become an academy from September, sponsored by Tapton which finally converted this month after a number of legal difficulties.

Some schools were keen to take early steps down the academy route to gain funding which they were losing from other sources.

But, as more secondaries become academies, the financial advantages are becoming smaller.

Headteachers at Sheffield’s schools have made it clear they do not want secondaries to become completely independent entities, in competition for pupils and funding.

With the help of the authority they have formed a City Wide Learning Body which will see heads co-operating on key issues.

Dr Sonia Sharp, the city’s executive head of children’s services, said the council wanted to help schools shape their own futures by giving them the chance to choose partners from a council-approved list of potential academy sponsors.