Top city school is latest set to become academy

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GOVERNORS at a top Sheffield secondary are set to vote to opt out of council control at a meeting later this month –to make the school the city’s latest independent academy.

A decision by governors at Silverdale School in Bents Green will be taken on May 14 following a consultation process for parents.

Bursar Richard Exton said one of the main motivations for the proposed change was the Government’s proposals for sixth form funding –a factor also highlighted by Tapton, which has gone down the same route.

Ministers have decided to equalise the amount of funding received in future by schools and sixth form colleges –which will result in less cash for secondaries like Silverdale.

“Estimates undertaken by schools and the local authority indicate we are likely to lose around £350,000 a year by the time the proposals are fully implemented in April 2014,” Mr Exton said.

“This drop in our post-16 funding would have a devastating effect on the service we would be able to deliver to our students.”

To bridge the funding gap Silverdale has volunteered to take on education pilots covering areas such as special needs pupils and teacher training.

But Mr Exton said the initiatives brought additional costs and responsibilities as well as the additional resources.

“The net increase is also a long way short of making up for our projected losses in post-16 funding,” he said.

In the short term schools converting into academies will receive financial bonuses –in Silverdale’s case the figure will be £647,000 for the 2012-13 academic year.

While that level of increase will not be maintained, the Silverdale governors believe academies will continue to be better funded than local authority-maintained schools –though they will have to pay for a variety of services currently provided through the council.

Mr Exton said the upside would be the greater freedom the school would have in the way they spent their income.

One plan was to introduce computer sciences into the curriculum – though the current school timetable and structure of the day would be unchanged.

“Under these circumstances, the governors felt they had no option but to consider the academy route,” he added.