Parents consulted over Sheffield school change

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Parents are being consulted on plans to change the legal status of a primary and high school in Sheffield.

The joint governing body for Birley Learning Community, which is responsible for around 2,000 pupils at Birley Community Primary and Birley Community College in the south east of the city, is proposing to change its schools from community to foundation status, and establish a charitable trust to hold its land and assets, from this September.

Foundation schools are state-funded schools in which the governing body has more freedom in the day-to-day running of the school.

If it goes ahead, the Birley Co-operative Learning Trust would remain part of the local education authority, Sheffield Council, but would be supported by the trust to continue to raise standards for pupils and families.

Partners - including the council and possibly a university or other community groups - would be involved in a co-operative membership trust.

The model of working is said to allow parents, staff and pupils to become involved in the school’s direction through trust membership.

Steve Robinson, the principal of Birley Learning Community, said there would be no noticeable short term changes for pupils, and talks were already taking place with potential partners for the trust.

He added: “There won’t be an immediate change but we are looking to focus on the stakeholder so we can have greater involvement with parents so they can help shape schooling more effectively, rather than it being done by the local authority.

“We want to maintain very good links in our community and be accountable to our community.”

Both Birley schools have shared a governing body and worked in partnership since 2009.

The initial consultation on further change is open to parents, staff, pupils and governors, and runs until noon on Thursday, May 23.

Consultation meetings will take place next Tuesday, May 7, at Birley Community College, Birley Lane, Sheffield, with parents able to attend from 6pm and the public from 7pm.

A further consultation could then take place.

Mr Robinson urged parents to have their say on the changes. He added: “It is an opportunity to comment on the new educational landscape and help us shape the way we go forward.”