High-flying Wigan college and high school look to form academy trust

A nationally acclaimed Wigan sixth-form college has revealed plans to join forces with a top performing local high school to create a multi-academy trust.
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Winstanley College is proposing to develop a trust with Golborne High, which would see both education centres working closely together.

A multi-academy trust would see the centres come under one banner organisation, but they would remain as separate entities.

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Louise Tipping, principal at Winstanley College, has sent a letter about the proposals to students and parents, while a similar letter was distributed by Alison Gormally, headteacher at Golborne High, and Margaret Byrne, chairman of governors.

Golborne High School's headteacher Alison GormallyGolborne High School's headteacher Alison Gormally
Golborne High School's headteacher Alison Gormally

It said: “The governing bodies of Winstanley College and Golborne High School have agreed to undertake detailed evaluation, including public consultation, about whether to form a multi-academy trust. At this stage it is only a proposal; the final decision of each governing body will only be taken after this detailed work.

“While Winstanley and Golborne are each high performing and extremely successful now, our governors and leadership teams share a commitment to seeking opportunities to improve further in the future. A period of detailed evaluation allows us to explore and analyse the potential of a multi-academy trust to be the basis of a successful shared future.

“It is important to emphasise that this exploration is being undertaken through choice and because we both want the best for the children and young people that we serve. If a multi-academy trust were to be formed, it would build on the strengths of Winstanley and Golborne. There would not be changes to practical aspects such as the timing of the school day, uniform (at Golborne), the school year – or to our cultures of high expectations of staff and students.”

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A formal consultation with parents and the wider community is expected to take place after February half-term, with more information provided about the proposals at that time so students, staff and parents can have their say.

Winstanley College principal Louise TippingWinstanley College principal Louise Tipping
Winstanley College principal Louise Tipping

If the governing bodies then decide to proceed, Winstanley College and Golborne High could become academies during the first half of the 2022-23 academic year, subject to Department for Education approval.

Golborne High has rocketed up the GCSE exam performance rankings in recent years. It is currently rated as “good” by Ofsted, with the inspector noting during the last visit in 2019 that there was enough evidence to suggest that could rise to the top mark of “outstanding” in the next full inspection.

Winstanley College was also judged to be “good” when it was inspected in 2020 and was recognised by the Sunday Times last month as one of the country’s best state sixth-forms. Each year, more than 800 students progress to university, almost 300 of which are Russell Group institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge.

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