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Sussex set for its first Church of England academy
The first Church of England academy in Sussex will be created in a matter of months.
William Parker Sports College in Hastings is set to become the county’s first CofE academy as the Diocese of Chichester looks to pave the way for more schools to convert.
The Diocese is now calling on all of its 158 schools to consider the possibility of becoming academies in a landmark move.
The “outstanding” St Lawrence CofE school in Hurstpierpoint is likely to be the church’s second acad- emy in the county.
A letter from its head teacher to parents revealed the Diocese of Chichester “made it clear that it is inevitable that their church schools would become academies”.
Church officials have formed a Diocesan Umbrella Trust to assist with any church schools considering converting.
It said that the move was in part a response to the Government and West Sussex County Council’s pro-academy approach which had forced them to respond as they “could not ignore the academy issue any longer”.
Sarah Phillips, diocesan education strategy adviser, said the diocese would prefer schools to establish their own local academy trusts in groups with other schools to run the academies.
The diocese would also be able to appoint some governors on to the trusts’ boards.
The newly developed trust is also creating a company together with the academies and non-academy schools to maximise their collective buying power.
Although there are currently no Church of England academies in Sussex, there are more than 200 primary and secondary Church of England schools which have become academies nationwide.
The 394-year-old all-boys William Parker Sports College is set to become an academy in September sponsored by ARK Schools, which currently operates 18 academies in Birmingham, London and Portsmouth.
An Ofsted inspection last month, found the school had dropped from satisfactory to inadequate.
Diocese officials said that William Parker was an unusual case as 80% of the county’s schools were Ofsted rated as good or excellent.
Mrs Phillips said: “We didn’t want academies when they started but now it has started we have got to work with the system.
“Over time we have seen that some academies have been successful and some haven’t and we don’t believe that all academy sponsors are necessarily rapacious or money grabbing.”
Councillor Sue Shanks, of Brighton and Hove City Council’s children and young people commit- tee, said: “No Church of England schools in the city have expressed a desire to become an academy.
“Our schools are well supported by the local authority.”
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