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Thoughts on the new King’s Priory Academy

by
27 September 2013

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From Mr Tim Render

Sir, - The article about the creation of the new King's Priory Academy in North Tyneside (Education, 20 September) made interesting reading, especially for those who, like me, are governors and directors of other academy trusts.

The absolute priority for the academies programme, whether they are formed from schools in difficulty, or conversions by already successful schools, is the provision of excellent education to young people in their communities. And the latter point cannot be overlooked, which means that academy sponsors need to work with their local areas on the provision of a whole education system.

I worry when Church-related organisations press ahead with academy proposals that appear not to take account of the impact of their proposals on the lives of other young people at schools that may be adversely affected, and may even become unsustainable. And I am not reassured that the Secretary of State - whose single-minded aim is the conversion of all schools to academy status and the creation of a market in publicly funded education - considers those effects to be manageable.

But, above all, I worry that the whole arrangement appears to involve the "underwriting" by the government of the substantial debt (£5 million) of one of the predecessor schools. This was a fee-paying school, and presumably to some extent selective in intake. The details of what that underwriting means are not set out in the feature, but what can be the justification for any public funding support for previous debts of a commercial school to enable it to become a state-funded academy, when there is such a shortage of funds for capital investment to improve the rest of the public school estate?

TIM RENDER
14 Jellicoe Way, Hinckley LE10 1PB

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