City College confirms Whitehawk primary academy plans

3:20pm Tuesday 13th November 2012

By Ben James

College bosses have confirmed plans to take over a primary school labelled as “failing” by Government inspectors.

City College Brighton and Hove will now apply to the Department for Education to sponsor Whitehawk Primary School as an academy.

The school was deemed as “failing” by Ofsted when inspectors visited.

In line with Government policy, it was earmarked to become an academy.

But in July the school achieved its best ever Key Stage Two exam results.

In maths 66.7% of pupils reached the grade while 83.3% achieved the standard in English.

Both the college and the University of Brighton showed an interest in acting as sponsor for the proposed academy but it was the former who took the lead and now City College governors have backed the plans.

Senior staff, led by college principal Lynn Thackway, will now work through the lengthy application with next September set as a target date for formal conversion.

Mrs Thackway, who took over from long-serving former head Phil Frier in September, said: “The decision followed an extremely thorough analysis of the strategic, operational and educational implications of the proposal.

“I look forward to working with the school and key stakeholders to ensure success for the staff, children, families and Whitehawk community.”

Education experiment

In her first interview with The Argus back in September, she described Whitehawk Primary as one of her top priorities.

However, there is strong opposition to the plans with unions claiming that the school is no longer failing.

Alex Knutsen, the Unison branch secretary, said: “The school has recently seen record grades but the application is only decided from the year in question.

“We believe that academies are a huge experiment with our children’s education.

“If something does go wrong then who is going to be there to pick up the pieces?”

City College already has a campus near the school in Wilson Avenue and describes the move as a “natural progression”.

The conversion would see college bosses having an input in how the primary school children are taught in return for funding.

Mr Knutsen said: “I find it odd that they are taking on a primary school.

“There’s a gap in between so our fear is that they try and take on a secondary school in the city.

“As I understand it, it’s by no means a sealed deal. We are meeting with the anti-academy group and will take things from there.”

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