Exmouth principal shows appeal for academy move

PUBLISHED: 14:58 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 18 June 2010

THE PRINCIPAL of cash-strapped Exmouth Community College is attracted by the idea of the school moving to academy status to help fund its multi-million pound heating headache. Tony Alexander believed there was a great financial incentive in such a move,

THE PRINCIPAL of cash-strapped Exmouth Community College is attracted by the idea of the school moving to academy status to help fund its multi-million pound heating headache.

Tony Alexander believed there was a 'great financial incentive' in such a move, though he admitted any final decision would have to be made by the college's governing body.

Repairs, amounting to around £3 million, are needed at the school following a boiler failure on the Gipsy Lane site last January.

The hot water supply at the Green Close campus has also failed.

Mr Alexander said: "I am attracted by the idea and the extra benefits there are of having academy status.

"It will be a refreshing opportunity but one that has to be considered very carefully.

"The pros and cons have to be weighed up by the governing body of the school, who are the only ones who can make the decision."

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, has written to all schools inviting them to apply to become academies, thus breaking away from local authority control.

He said the changes and new freedoms would drive up standards for all schools.

Mr Alexander said academy status offered the college the chance to gain more money and thereby sort out their heating problem.

He added: "It offers independence of action, enables us to build on strengths and address weaknesses and allows us to set our own curriculum.

"We have received an invitation (in a letter) from the Education Secretary. Responding to it will be something the governors will do."

More than 1,000 schools from across the country have applied to become independent academies since the reforms were announced last month.

Tony Priest, chairman of the Exmouth Area Learning Community and head teacher at Lympstone Primary School, has rejected the idea, saying he was not in favour of a radical transformation of the local education landscape.

Academies are state-funded schools which have a high degree of autonomy.

They have more freedom than other schools in the state sector over issues such as teachers' pay and how they are governed.

Established with government cash, academies also have greater freedom to digress from the national curriculum.

Mr Alexander said repairs on the heating system on the Gipsy Lane site had gone out to European tender. Work is scheduled to commence on July 5.

"The successful firm will have to work from 3pm to 10pm during term time to avoid disturbing classes," he said.

"We will repeat the process for the Green Close site next summer but for a much larger figure."

The college is also continuing to seek financial support from the county council.

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