Nailsea primary to be first North Somerset church academy

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By Carol_Deacon | Wednesday, November 21, 2012, 12:10

A failing Nailsea primary could become the first church academy school in North Somerset.

After Ofsted inspectors issued Kingshill Church of England Primary School with a notice to improve earlier this year the governing body held urgent talks with the Department for Education, the Diocese of Bath and Wells and North Somerset Council to look at the long-term future of the school.

It has now been proposed by the Department for Education that the school becomes an academy sponsored by the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

If the move goes ahead, Kingshill will be first church primary school in North Somerset to become an academy.

Key findings of the Ofsted inspection, carried out in April, were that students' progress was slow, especially in writing.

Inspectors say that in the past three years attainment at the end of Year 6 has been slow and pupils have underachieved – although there had been an improvement this academic year.

In a letter home to parents head teacher Nic Baykaa-Murray said: "We have been given a notice to improve as we need to ensure sustained improvement in academic outcomes for all our children.

"Academy conversion is a key part of current education legislation.

"At the end of May the governors made an informed decision that this conversion is in the best long-term interests of the school and community.

"We are confident that this conversion will rapidly secure high standards in achievement for all our pupils whilst maintaining the happy and welcoming atmosphere that we know and value."

Initially only outstanding or good schools were able to convert to academies.

But under new Government legislation introduced last year, schools deemed to be vulnerable or underperforming for a number of years were also given the opportunity to consider converting to a sponsored academy in a bid to raise standards.

The change would allow the school to access additional Government funding and resources and the Diocese would offer 'sponsorship' in the form of expertise, resources and support.

Governors have spoken to parents about the possible changes and a consultation on conversion to academy with parents is due to start after the half-term holidays.

The conversion to academy will have to be approved by Government ministers.

If agreed the school will be run under the direction of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Multi Academy Trust (MAT).

The MAT will support schools converting to sponsored academy status with the aim securing rapid and sustained improvement of every academy it sponsors.

It will oversee the distribution of state funds to newly established academies and will be accountable to the Secretary of State for Education.

A number of schools are already consulting on the issue with some expected to become part of the MAT during the next six months.

The MAT is now undertaking a nationwide hunt for an executive principal to provide leadership at Kingshill and other schools that will join the trust.

The school, which is based at Pound Lane and has 167 pupils on roll, is smaller than the average sized primary school.

The proportion of children eligible for free school meals is above average and the proportion of disabled pupils and those who are supported at school or with a statement of special educational needs is well above average.

Kingshill chair of governors Chris Perrett said: "What is important to all of us at the school is that all the things that keep Kingshill such a great place for children and staff are taken forward into the new academy, while also allowing us to change and evolve to become the outstanding school we know we can be."

Further discussions with parents will be undertaken over the next month to explore whether the school will change its name and whether a new uniform will be phased in over the coming years.

An open afternoon is being held for parents wanting to find out more on Thursday, November 22.

 The first primary school in North Somerset is to become an academy was Herons Moor Community Primary School based at The Campus, Locking Castle in September this year.

As part of the changes, North Somerset Council handed over control of the land and buildings on a 125 year lease to the Weston-super-Mare school now called Herons' Moor Academy.

Academies have the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff, can change the length of terms and school days and can decide how it delivers the curriculum.

Of the 10 secondary schools in North Somerset eight have already become academies.

These are Backwell, Broadoak at Weston-super-Mare, Churchill, Clevedon, Gordano at Portishead, Hans Price at Weston-super- Mare, Nailsea and Priory also at Weston- super-Mare which is an academy trust.

This leaves St Katherine's at Pill and Worle schools still deciding.

Kingshill inspectors Wiola Hola and John Carnaghan said that significant improvement is required in relation to pupils' achievement.

An action plan was drawn up detailing objectives for the school to achieve last September.



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