GOVERNORS at one of the district’s top high schools last night voted to switch its status to an academy.
Castleford High School – which will become Castleford Academy – was granted an academy order by the government in January and is now working towards a full conversion date of April 1.
Roy Vaughan, headteacher, said converting to an academy could allow the school to build new facilities, such as a designated vocational centre.
He said: “I am delighted for the current and future pupils of Castleford that the governing body has supported the proposal to pursue the conversion of the school to an academy.
“In this we have a single objective – to use the resources and freedoms that status bestows for the benefit of our pupils.
“The direct funding from central government will allow us to retain and continue to attract the highest calibre of leaders, teachers and support staff which is an absolute must for an outstanding school.
“For us academy status will be a logical extension of what we already do well. We have developed very effective capacity to manage our own finance, business and personnel matters. I am confident that this is in the very best interests of the school.”
The Academies Act, passed last year, allows schools to break free from council control and is automatically eligible to schools rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ or ‘good with outstanding features’.
Castleford High School was given an ‘outstanding’ rating at its last Ofsted inspection in 2007.
Bill Clift, chairman of governors, said: “I feel confident that with the trustees, governors, leadership team, teachers, support staff and parents we can make significant progress over the years ahead.
“We feel that it is in the best interests of our pupils and the wider community to make this decision. Over the last 20 years we have made significant progress and becoming an outstanding school and we feel comfortable in taking on this extra responsibility.”
Converting to an academy gives schools the ability to set its own pay and conditions for staff, set 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.
A council spokesman said: “Academies are still part of the community. They serve children and families in a particular area and they retain the same responsibilities as any maintained school as part of the learning community. They remain subject to Ofsted inspection and Freedom of Information.”
Teaching and support staff unions in Wakefield have raised concerns about the speed at which some schools are converting to academy status.
Katherine Fry, lead organiser for education union, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “I have spent more time choosing a car than some governing bodies are spending considering the implications of becoming an academy. Once academies convert there is no going back.”