School is planning to jump over border to boost funding

Southlands High School headteacher Mark Fowle
Southlands High School headteacher Mark Fowle
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A high achieving secondary school wants to opt out of local authority control and boost its budget- by joining forces with neighbours in a different county.

Southlands High is in talks with Standish Community High in Wigan to form an academy partnership, which will see the two working together, with the option of more local schools joining them in future.

Southlands High School

Southlands High School

Governors at Southlands, which is rated Good by Ofsted, decided to “consult with parents, staff, pupils and other stakeholders about the possibility of becoming an Academy.”

However, chairman of governors Tom Frost has suggested that the Clover Road school in Chorley, was being coerced into the move.

He said: “We have been led into these consultations by the increasing pressure from government to see all schools become academies.”

Mr Frost added: “We can either choose when and how to move to become an academy or wait until such time as the government tells us to do so. We prefer to be in charge of our own destiny.”

A statement issued by the school said parents would see “little direct impact on the day to day activities”.

However, he said that as the school would no longer be under the control of Lancashire County Council, Southlands would have access to increased funds for further investment in the school facilities.

“Additionally Southlands and Standish CHS in Wigan are in joint discussions on the benefits that each could achieve were they to both move into a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) set up by themselves.”

Headteacher Mark Fowle said the two schools were only four miles apart and shared accountability would improve provision and standards for pupils. Standish is ranked good with outstanding qualities by Ofsted.

Further details of the link-up are expected to be released at a meeting for parents next week.

Mr Fowle said: “Our academy consultation period will run into mid March providing plenty of opportunity for all parents to comment on the proposal.

“As part of the consultation process a meeting for parents will take place on Tuesday February 9 at 6.30pm in the school.”

However, one Southlands parent Claire Ward said: “Parents received a text on Friday afternoon to look at the schools website where there was deter which more or less says they are going to become an academy.

“I have written to the school saying: “How you can possibly state on your website’s welcome page the many positives of Southlands High School and then compile a letter with a ‘jump before pushed’ attitude is also abhorrent.

Chairman of Standish High’s governors, Adrian Hardy, said: “We are currently looking at the whys and wherefores. Nothing has yet been decided and there is a consultation which will continue until the end of March.

“We want to improve what we are doing already and considering the options available.

“Nationally the Government wants academies to be the order of the day, it wants to see school-to-school support, and there are greater opportunities for capital funding and other freedoms under the academy system.”

Mr Hardy said Standish had been considering academy status before it was approached by Southlands but stressed it was not a done deal.