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The Corporation

Posted: 21/09/09

Schools Minister gives academy consultation the go ahead

Ambitious plans to transform secondary education in Sutton-in-Ashfield have moved a step closer.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker MP has given the go ahead for proposals to be developed for Sutton Centre Community College to become a new academy.

It follows discussions between West Nottinghamshire College, Sutton Centre and Nottinghamshire County Council about ways of building on the success of the school to further raise attainment and future standards of achievement in the town.

This follows the school’s best ever GCSE exam results this summer.

Wide consultation will now take place with parents, the community, young people and staff. If plans are accepted they would include a new school building, incorporating the latest technology and equipment.

Under the proposals West Nottinghamshire College would act as lead sponsor of the academy, which will specialise in business and enterprise. Nottinghamshire County Council would be co-sponsor.

Together they would support the academy in further raising student aspirations through a challenging and relevant curriculum, combining academic and vocational courses underpinned by new technology.

Meanwhile, the college would build on its well-established links with partners in universities, commerce and industry to support the development of innovative approaches to learning.

The academy could open as early as September 2010, initially in the existing school buildings. It would cater for pupils from 11-18, with 900 places for 11-16 year-olds and a further 250 on post-16 programmes.

Academy status would also allow the school to grow its sixth-form provision and work closely with the college to engage young people who do not traditionally remain in post-16 education.

In addition, the school’s long-standing and well-regarded adult education courses would form an integral part of the provision. It is intended the academy will become a focal point for the town; offering extended schools status and an emphasis on life-long learning.

A trust board, chaired by West Nottinghamshire College principal and chief executive Asha Khemka OBE, would set the academy’s overall strategic direction and oversee all management and governance arrangements.

The college is regarded as being ideally placed to support the creation of the academy –being rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and the first in Nottinghamshire to gain Learning and Skills Beacon status.

It has also been recognised as a first-class employer in the prestigious Best Companies accreditation scheme.

Mrs Khemka said: “I’m delighted the Minister has approved our proposals to create a new academy, which will transform education and enhance opportunities for young people in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

“The academy will provide inspirational teaching and a dynamic ethos to ensure every pupil leaves with the highest possible qualifications and achieves their full potential.

“It will also become a focus for community learning; enabling families to share in the benefits of gaining new skills and qualifications.

“The next step is to consult fully with parents, pupils, staff and the community so they can help shape the academy proposals and have their say on the future of education in the town.”

Councillor Philip Owen, Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This is excellent news for current and future pupils at the school. The proposed academy status will further benefit their future career choices and aspirations, as well as help drive up academic standards in the area, which is a priority for the County Council’s new administration.”

Roger Tanner, headteacher at Sutton Centre Community College, said: "Following our best-ever GCSE results this summer, supporting Ofsted's judgement that we are a ‘good’ school, these proposals offer us an exciting chance to build further on this success.

“I hope everyone joins in the consultation to give their views."

The consultation will include a feasibility study to consider issues such as the academy’s vision and objectives, its name, location of the proposed new building and the curriculum on offer to pupils.