Parents’ anger at academy proposals

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PARENTS fighting plans to turn a Sheffield secondary school into an academy are holding their own ballot on the issue - after the school refused to stage a vote of its own.

Governors at King Ecgbert School, Dore, are set to vote on academy conversion plans on Tuesday, January 17, following two public consultation meetings.

Members of a protest group KES PLEAS - King Ecgbert Parents for LEA Status - are now carrying out a ballot by email and letter to judge levels of opposition. A circular has been sent to parents in the post and results will be announced before the governors make their decision.

Lesley Bowes, King Ecgbert headteacher, argues the financial advantages which will be brought by academy status are essential, as the school is facing a 25 per cent cut to its sixth-form funding.

She believes the move will help maintain academic standards and retain staff.

However, the protest group says becoming independent will result in a range of added responsibilities which have not been adequately costed.

Andrew James, group chairman, said not one estimate had been provided at the consultation meetings.

“We are simply being asked to accept on faith that the suggested savings of £300,000 in 2012-13 and £150,000 in 2013-14 will arise,” he said. “And at a time of shrinking budgets, redundancies are likely at some point.

“As an academy, King Ecgbert will pay those costs, which are likely to be substantial - eating into the supposed savings academy conversion will bring.”

The group also argues that receiving all its funding directly from national coffers will leave Sheffield City Council with less to spend on schools with greater needs.

Mrs Bowes has promised staff conditions and admissions procedures will not be changed and says King Ecgbert has no intention of withdrawing from the Sheffield community of schools.