BASINGSTOKE MP Maria Miller says a secondary school which converted to an academy is going “from strength to strength”.

Mrs Miller gave her verdict on Everest Community Academy after visiting it for the first time since it gained academy status.

Everest Community Academy, in Oxford Way, Popley, became the first secondary school in the borough to convert in September this year, joining the Academy Enterprise Trust.

Mrs Miller was given a tour of the academy, and met David Trigg, chief executive officer for the trust, which is responsible for 17 academies, and principal Julie Rose to find out how the school has progressed since the conversion.

Mrs Miller said: “I know the school well and it’s wonderful to see it bubbling with life. I know Everest is a school which is clearly going from strength to strength, and with the support in place because of the academy change, that will ensure it continues into the future.”

Asked whether she hoped other schools in Basingstoke would go for academy status, Mrs Miller said: “These are decisions for headteachers and governing bodies to make. We can see from the situation here that academy status can respond to the need for extra support, or maybe headteachers want to deliver education in a different way.

“There are other schools considering academy status and it’s important for them to have that choice.”

Mr Trigg is also pleased with the way things are going at Everest.

He said: “It’s very positive. We are delighted that Julie is leading the way in developing the academy. Quite rightly, the Government is raising the bar and we need to respond.”

There was some opposition to Everest converting to an academy earlier this year when a consultation process was held with parents, but Mr Trigg hopes the school’s governors have proved that conversion was the right move.

He added: “They have demonstrated that it’s still part of the family of schools. It’s not isolated itself – it’s gone further into the community.

“Academy status is not like the old government model which isolated schools. The model this Government has set up is to be part of a family of schools so every child succeeds.”