Sidmouth College academy decision ‘in January’

A DECISION on whether to convert Sidmouth College into an academy will be made by school governors in early January.

Students, parents and staff are currently being asked for their views on the proposed change – which would take place in April next year.

Principal Jeremy Roberts this week revealed every job is safe and the Primley Road institution will still be eager to work with other town schools and education authority Devon County Council.

The Herald reported how college governors decided to look into the possibility of converting to academy status last month.

Academies are publicly funded independent schools, free from local authority control. They get their funding directly from the Department for Education and are accountable to the Government.

“The intention in doing this really is to promote innovation and give this college more freedom to act in response to the needs of students,” said Mr Roberts.

“Schools (which have converted to academy status) share a vision of a diverse education system with a commitment to excellence - and that is something we want to be part of.

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“This autonomy will give us the chance to move further, even faster.

“We’re not looking at it primarily as an exercise in raising money. I don’t think it will make an enormous difference in our budget. We will have freedom to decide which services we want. We might still want to spend money with the local authority and will be maintaining our relationship with them.

“The local community won’t be asked to pay for their own school.”

Mr Roberts said “every job is safe” and an academy move would see staff’s employer change from DCC to a charitable trust set up to run the college.

He added: “If we go ahead we’ll continue to work in partnership with all of our local schools. Our local learning community is very important to us.

“We’re looking forward to getting feedback from staff, students and parents,” said Mr Roberts, who added the final decision rests with the college’s governing body. He said the decision will be made in early January and the conversion to academy status would be completed in April 2012.