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The Vyne School drops bid to become an academy
A BASINGSTOKE secondary school, which was all set to become an academy, has now pulled out of the move.
The Vyne was due to convert to an academy, which would be run by Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) and Queen Mary’s College. The principals of the two colleges had applied to the Department for Education (DfE) to form a trust to run The Vyne, which was put in special measures and graded as “inadequate” by Ofsted in November 2010.
In February, Stephen Sheedy, principal at QMC, told The Gazette that the move would allow The Vyne to benefit from the colleges’ resources and their own good practices. But now, the whole idea has been scrapped because the school has improved since being put in special measures.
Bruce Newlands, chair of governors, said the DfE had put pressure on the school, in Vyne Road, South View, to convert to an academy, but now that The Vyne’s results have improved and it is out of special measures, it is not necessary to convert because the school has shown it can improve on its own.
He added: “When we had Julie Churcher as an acting headteacher, there was talk of a federation forming between The Vyne and Aldworth with the two schools coming together. But that didn’t happen and then the DfE were keen for us to come up with another solution. That’s when the colleges came up with the academy idea. However, there’s no longer the forcing pressure to go down that route.”
Mr Newlands also pointed out that becoming an academy posed risks with regards to funding. The school only has 513 pupils, with a capacity for 750, and this year’s intake of new pupils is just 54, compared to a year group of 130 who have just left. He said becoming an academy could result in a loss of funds because of the decrease in pupil numbers, whereas being under the control of the local education authority (Hampshire County Council) means the school can run at a deficit until numbers increase.
A letter sent to parents on September 14, said: “Given the improved results and strong Ofsted report, which are a real triumph for the school, governors felt a move to academy status would destabilise the momentum that the school has gained. The colleges have given their commitment to continue to support improvements at The Vyne.”
The school is still looking to appoint a new headteacher as Krista Dawkins, who took on the role in January on a temporary basis, will leave in August next year.
Anthony Bravo, principal at BCoT, said he was pleased with the decision for the school not to convert to an academy, and said it was a mutual agreement. He added: “It’s great that the school has developed so far that they don’t need to become an academy. We will continue to give them high levels of support in the same way we did before they were going to become an academy. They were in a position previously where they would have had to convert but now they don’t. We will still work with them but it’s a real success story.”
QMC principal Mr Sheedy added: “We are fully supportive of what The Vyne governors are doing, the school is definitely making significant improvement and it has a good headteacher. Stability is everything. We will continue to support them.”
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