New academy bid

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A WIGAN school that has achieved one of the most astonishing turn-arounds in local educational history is considering a break-away from council control.

Hawkley Hall High is consulting students, staff, parents and unions over an application for academy status.

It would be the third borough secondary to take such a route. But while some are “encouraged” by the Government to become academies and take on sponsors in a bid to pull them up the league tables from often below-average positions, for high-fliers such as Hawkley Hall it is purely optional and it has designs on backing struggling schools itself.

Hawkley is certainly full of confidence. In just four years the percentage of pupils gaining five or more A* to C grades (including maths and English) has rocketed from 38 per cent to 73.

A public meeting was being held at the school at 6pm today to discuss the option further.

Head Roy Halford said: “Since the Government announced that outstanding schools could choose to convert to academy status, we have been watching the direction of travel for national education policy closely.

“As this policy has unfolded, we have decided that it is now the right time for Hawkley Hall to consider conversion to academy status.”

He said benefits to Hawkley students would include the ability to stick to existing successful teaching methods and topics while the National Curriculum changes.

Mr Halford said the school, which would be funded direct from Government, would have greater control over its finances and thereby better cater for students’ need; and in supporting other schools, it stands to get extra staff and cash, again to the students’ advantage.

He added: “No decision has yet been made but foremost in our minds is the preservation of the unique ethos and identity of Hawkley Hall High School; the name, the uniform and the ‘Hawkley Way’.

“We would continue to serve the children and families of our local community and value our provision for students with special educational needs.”