School bids to reopen as an academy trust

Standish High School

Standish High School

A leading Wigan high school will reopen in September as part of a multi-academy trust (Mat) if its bid for the controversial move is accepted.

Parents of pupils at Standish Community High have been informed governors have applied to the Department of Education to move the school out of local authority control.

It will now form a partnership with Southlands High in Chorley with further schools expected to join the Mat in the near future.

The move to academy status has been criticised by parents especially given the government U-turn on plans to convert every school in 2020.

Likewise, staff are also understood to be sceptical about the decision and its impact on the school.

A letter to parents from headteacher Andrew Pollard reads: “We want to be pro-active and take control of our destiny. The government will no longer force all schools to become academies, however, it has reaffirmed its determination to see all schools to become academies.

“With greater accountability structures, standards in teaching and learning for the Mat we hope to rise to even higher levels of success. Furthermore, there will also be further professional development opportunities for staff.”

Governors at both Standish and Southlands voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of the move, the letter adds.

Ministers announced earlier this year that all local authority schools had to be in the process of becoming academies by 2020. But these plans have been rolled back following a furious backlash from teaching unions.

Coun Jo Platt, Wigan Council’s children and young people cabinet member, said the reforms were wrong and public sector partnership should continue to be key.

Earlier this month Michael Gallagher quit his role as a governor in protest at the school after bosses pressed ahead with its academy move despite the government U-turn.

He said: “Standish has gone down a road which is totally and utterly unnecessary and one to which I am completely opposed.

“The main independent research and evaluation provides absolutely no evidence that academies are better than other schools at raising educational standards.

“Wigan’s education system is held in high esteem in Westminster.”