A KNOTTINGLEY school – which suffered a bitter blow when a multi-million pound scheme to revamp its buildings was axed by the government – will be “reborn” as De Lacy Academy next month.
Knottingley High School, on Middle Lane, will change its name and become an academy from April 1 – just 20 months after it lost out on cash to make improvements through the doomed Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative.
Headteacher Elizabeth Churton, who spoke out after the initiative was scrapped, told the Express the demise of BSF was part of the reason the school’s governors had made the decision for it to become an academy, part of the Schools Partnership Trust.
She said: “This is our way of saying ‘we will do it anyway’.
“The decision to become an academy is part of something much bigger as well as a chance to reinvent the school in a positive light.”
Knottingley, Airedale, Castleford and Carleton High Schools were included in Wakefield Council’s successful bid for around £100m of improvements from the BSF scheme.
But plans were thrown out – along with a blueprint to transform another ten district schools in future years – after education secretary Michael Gove announced the scheme would be brought to an end.
Project leaders at Knottingley had hoped to replace its 1960s building with new modern facilities and community services.
Converting to an academy gives a school the ability to set its own pay and conditions for staff and its own term lengths, retain greater control of its budget and enjoy freedom from the national curriculum.
Once a school has become an academy it cannot return to local authority control for seven years, though the council may still provide some services in the meantime, such as catering.
Mrs Churton said: “This is the rebirth of Knottingley High School into De Lacy Academy.
“The name has come from the students, who suggested it after researching Knottingley’s unique history and meeting local historians. We are still very much at the heart of the Knottingley community. This comes after a very successful three years for the school, where we have made improvements and seen an increase in the number of pupils gaining GCSE grade A*-C grades.”
Former Castleford and Airedale High Schools have already converted to academies since the Academies Act was introduced.