Governors at Greendown Community School in West Swindon have set in motion a three month consultation process that could result in a change in status and a new name.
Parents, staff and partner primary schools are being asked for views on whether the school should become an academy after it was invited by the Department for Education to change its status.
This will mean that the school will cut its management ties with Swindon Council and become entirely responsible for its budget, staff employment, management support services and the school grounds in Grange Park. The budget will be paid directly to the school from central government, including about £450,000 extra that is currently top sliced by Swindon Council for the services it provides.
Headteacher Clive Zimmerman said he was proud the school had been invited to apply for academy status. “Unlike the former government’s system of closing failing schools and relaunching them as academies, the present government gives schools the opportunity to become academies if they are adjudged to be in Ofsted’s two highest categories – outstanding or good with outstanding features. It’s a feather in Greendown’s cap and illustrates the huge improvements the school has achieved in the last ten years.
“Academy status not only provides funds to be used in ways we think will help us become consistently outstanding in all areas of school life, we can also operate a more flexible curriculum. Part of the agreement is to go into partnership with another school in need of assistance to pass on good practice.”
In the Swindon area, The Ridgeway Wroughton, Highworth Warneford, Wootton Bassett, Farmors Fairford and Malmesbury schools have also been invited to become academies. Nationally around 1 in 10 secondary schools will have the new status by the start of the new school year in September.
Mr Zimmerman said the school’s pastoral care and sports college strengths will remain central to its future. “Greendown has always been known as a caring supportive school, closely involved in the community it serves, it’s a very important foundation to what we do. And the sports specialism introduced in 2007 will remain a key area. Sport has proved very beneficial to pupil achievement and the school community, and it has strengthened our relationship with West Swndon’s primary schools.”
He added that initial reaction from staff and parents to the change in school status has been positive. The consultation period takes place until mid-April when the governing body will make a decision.
Greendown currently has 1,050 pupils and has places in some year groups.