Friday, 23 April 2021

School will be even better as academy, says head

THE headteacher of Crazies Hill Primary School says it will be even better after becoming an academy.

The school started the new academic year as part of the Keys Academy Trust, having previously been under the control of Wokingham Borough Council.

Headteacher Philippa Chan, who had been working on the conversion since she joined the school four years ago, said the decision to join the trust was not motivated by money or due to a bad relationship with the council as the local education authority.

“This is for the benefit for everyone,” she said. “It is a wonderful opportunity for us and will help the children and staff.

“Some schools which are not thriving have to get support from academies but for us it was a positive decision. We are not looking to them for support to take us out of a difficult position.

“We are always looking for ways to improve and we feel we can achieve this best through this decision.”

The school, which was rated “good” at its last Ofsted inspection in 2016, was officially accepted by the trust in March after negotiations with the council, the Department for Education and the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education. Parents were consulted and welcomed the plan.

Mrs Chan said: “We had looked at lots of options over the last few years. It has always been on the agenda for the board of governors.

“We always wanted to have the opportunity to work with other schools around the area. We were not ready to do it straight away and we wanted to explore what options we had.

“All the schools in the academy are church schools and fit in with our values. It felt like a natural move for us to take. We still want to have a good relationship with the local authority. We are not turning our back on them and we have not left under a cloud.”

Helen Turnell, who has been a governor for three years and worked on the conversion plan, said: “We were looking to form partnerships with other schools and went through 12 to 18 months of reviews with lots of other schools. We even looked at forming our own academy trust.

“I think schools need collaboration and it is the best way of helping the children and teachers to move forward. It is very subjective. For some schools, you can get what you need from the local authority.

“This is not about money. It means you are part of a bigger body. All the other schools in the trust are either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, so we are joining a strong group of schools. Being part of an academy means we have a much closer relationship.

“We have new systems but on a day-to-day basis there is no great difference. “The parents were very supportive. The relationship we have with our parents is very good and we always wanted them to be involved in the process.”

Hester Wooller, chief executive of the trust, said: “Crazies Hill is a really good school which can see the advantages of joining the Keys Academy Trust.

“When you convert to an academy you get more support and opportunities to work with other schools.

“Crazies Hill is a very small school and now they can work with staff across the trust. One of the biggest benefits is we can be innovative with our curriculum.

“We are like a family of schools so we all look out for each other. We would also like to think that we offer capacity to the existing educational landscape and work alongside the local authority.”

The trust includes Earley St Peter’s Primary School, the Coombes primary in Arborfield, St Sebastian’s primary and St Nicholas primary in Wokingham, Alder Grove primary, Polehampton infants and juniors and Sonning primary.

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