Kenilworth School and Sixth Form pushing ahead with academy conversion

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Kenilworth School and Sixth Form has announced it will apply to become an academy later this month, and has named one of the schools it wants to partner with.

In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday September 19, the school confirmed it would like Westwood Academy, based in Westwood Heath, to be the first ‘partner’ in a multi-academy trust.

Kenilworth aims to be lead school in this trust as it is currently rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Being a lead school in the trust allows Kenilworth to have more control over the affairs of the schools within it.

And Westwood Academy was chosen as the first partner in the trust due to its ‘good’ Ofsted status, its relatively close location, and its ‘similar ethos’ to Kenilworth.

More schools could join the trust in the future, but governors said they would not like the trust to become too large as it could become very difficult to run.

Headteacher of Kenilworth School and Sixth Form Hayden Abbott felt converting to academy status and forming a trust was the right thing to do before they move to a joint site off Glasshouse Lane as part of Warwick District Council’s Local Plan.

He said the school would be able to ‘expand its offer’ to its pupils and students by having Westwood Academy as a partner.

For example, pupils who may want to try more vocational courses could do so at Westwood, as it has the facilities for those qualifications.

In the past, the school would suggest places like Warwickshire College to study, but if Westwood joins the trust, Kenilworth could have more say over how the courses are run.

Mr Abbott added: “Westwood Academy has a similar ethos to us - that every child matters. We’ll do whatever it takes to help pupils to achieve.

“We’ve encouraged students to look to Warwickshire College if they want to do something vocational. We don’t want them to have a sense of failure.”

Governors will now be speaking to advisers about the planned site move over the next 12 months before Warwick District Council will likely adopt the Local Plan at a meeting tonight (Wednesday September 20).

Mr Abbott said he hoped the new school would be ready to move into by September 2021.

Multi-academy trusts oversee the running of all the schools within them, and are directly funded by the government. All schools within a trust keep their headteachers and governors.

Academies can also set their own pay levels, holidays, catchment areas and curriculum.

But the schools within trusts are answerable to an unelected board rather than the local authority - which has made them controversial.

Campaign group ‘Our Schools: Kenilworth Fight Cut Backs’ branded the decision to press ahead with academy conversion as ‘disgusting’.

And Kevin Courtney, the deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has said academies ‘drive the public out of decision making’.

Mr Abbott admitted he did not yet know who would be on the board. However, he said anyone on the board will have to have experience of being a school governor ‘at some level.’