Academy links for Doncaster area schools

MAYOR of Doncaster Peter Davies wants to roll out academies for children aged four to 18 right across the borough.

Mr Davies, a former teacher, has already given the go-ahead for officers to look into the possibility of all Thorne’s primary schools linking up with Trinity Academy.

But now he has revealed he would like to see the same idea adopted in the rest of the borough’s schools.

He said he had visited the Bede Academy in Northumberland, which is run by the same trust which runs Trinity - the United Learning Trust.

He said: “They take children from four or five and see them through to 18.

“I’ve been trying against the odds to get that sort of system across the borough.”

He said he hoped other parts of the borough would follow, and thought it was the way forward.

Meanwhile, Doncaster Council says there is a second school in the Thorne area which has expressed an interest in linking up with Trinity, and a number of other primary schools looking to become academies.

Doncaster already has several secondary schools with academy status.

But now the council has confirmed there are also a number of primary schools looking to follow.

Willow Primary School, in Bessacarr, and Auckley Junior and Infants have made applications, while Grange Lane Infants and Pheasant Bank Juniors in Rossington are looking at becoming academies with links to Rossington All Saints Academy.

Two primary schools in Hatfield Academy’s pyramid - Crookesbroom and Hatfield Woodhouse - are also looking to follow the academy route.

Any move to become academies has to be approved by the Secretary of State for Education.

Unless the school was in special measures, it would also have to be supported by the individual school’s board of governors.

John Coward, Doncaster’s divisional secretary for the NUT teachers’ union, said he did not want to see any pressure put on primary schools to link up with the secondary academies they feed.

He said: “My concern is there is no evidence that having a secondary school head line-managing a primary school head is of any benefit.

“There are schools that are providing a good education that could be threatened by changing the nature of their governance.”

He added he was concerned that having five-to-18 academies would reduce the diversity of education available.

Serlby Park School in Bircotes, near Doncaster, has been a three-to-18 through-school for six years. It became an academy at the start of the current term.

Former governor and Harworth councillor David Challinor said he thought it had been a good thing.

“People had some scepticism about it when it first started. They thought it would be small children mixing with 18-year-olds, but it is not like that.

“There was a fear factor. But the schools were separate with a principal head, and head teachers at each school below him.

“Even though the schools are on different sites, the main headteacher still has charge of all the finance, and is responsible for a board of directors.

“It means you get a better grip on finances.”