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The Corporation

Posted: 18/11/09

Have your say on academy plans for Sutton

People are being urged to have their say on plans to turn Sutton Centre Community College into an Academy.

A wide-ranging public consultation has been launched so students, staff and the community can give their views on the ambitious proposals, aimed at transforming secondary education in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

It comes after Schools Minister Vernon Coaker MP gave the go ahead for the Academy proposals to be developed.

The consultation, which launched on Monday 16 November, will involve a series of meetings, drop-in sessions and written consultation with students, parents, carers, staff, governors and key stakeholders including businesses, schools and councillors.

The detailed proposals are outlined in a consultation brochure being distributed to parents of Sutton Centre students, parents of local primary school pupils, businesses and organisations across the area and on a special website set up to obtain feedback.

In addition to finding out whether people support the Academy plans, opinions are being sought on a range of issues including the curriculum, the proposed specialisms of business, enterprise and the arts; student catchment area, uniform policy and the Academy’s name.

People can have their say by:

  • Returning a pre-paid questionnaire in the consultation brochure to the Freepost address
  • Visiting www.suttonacademy.org.uk
  • Telephoning the consultation hotline – 0207 323 7110
  • Texting the word ACADEMY followed by your comments to 82010
  • Emailing comments to consultation@suttonacademy.org.uk

Meanwhile, parents of existing Sutton Centre students and parents of potential students can find out more by attending an open evening at the school, in High Pavement, on Tuesday 1 December from 5.30pm. This will be followed by a public meeting at 7pm, which anyone can attend.

The consultation is being run by Tribal – specialist consultants appointed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) – in conjunction with West Nottinghamshire College, which would act as the Academy’s lead sponsor, and Nottinghamshire County Council.

They are keen to engage as many people as possible in shaping the proposals before the consultation closes on 11 December.

A final decision on whether Sutton Centre becomes an Academy will be made by Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls MP, early next year.

If approved, the Academy would open its doors in September 2010; initially in the existing school buildings. However, potential sites for a state-of-the-art new building to replace Sutton Centre are currently being explored by the county council, which would be the Academy’s co-sponsor.

The multi-million pound building programme, which would equip the Academy with the latest technology and equipment, forms a key part of the plans. It is intended to provide an “inspirational” new building at the heart of the community, with all provision – including post-16, adult and community education – located on one site.

Asha Khemka OBE, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College, said: “I urge everybody with an interest in Sutton Centre Community College and its role in the community to take part in the consultation.

“Our proposals for the Academy are based on strength; the strength of the college in serving the needs of our communities and the strengths and success of the school in raising attainment. 

“Sponsoring the Academy is a fundamental part of our commitment to the community.  Together we aim to create an environment and a culture where young people and adults can reach their full potential. 

“The consultation is aimed at engaging as many people as possible and offers a variety of ways to get involved. This is a unique opportunity for the community to have its say about the future of educational opportunities in Sutton.”

Academies are all-ability, state-funded schools established and managed by sponsors who bring a proven track record of success in their field. They are led by a principal rather than a headteacher; with the post of the Academy’s principal-designate currently being advertised. Day-to-day running costs and capital expenditure are met by the DCSF.

The proposed Academy would bring an investment in facilities and resources for teaching and learning that would not be possible by the school alone.

It would raise standards of achievement and students’ aspirations by using the freedoms academies have to introduce new curriculum arrangements and innovative teaching methods, while increasing the number of young people progressing to post-16 and higher education.

Academy status would 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 education.

It would take up to 180 new students each year and eventually provide places for 900 11-16 year-olds, plus 250 sixth-form students.

Sutton Centre’s long-standing and well-regarded adult education courses for over 3,000 learners each year would form an integral part of the provision; with the Academy having extended schools status and an emphasis on life-long learning.

Meanwhile, the county council is consulting about whether the school should formally close next August, to be replaced by the Academy in September. This is a statutory process that requires the local authority to consult with local people before publishing a statutory notice of closure.

Councillor Philip Owen, Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The consultation represents a wonderful opportunity for the local community. It’s appropriate that everyone will have a say on the future of the Sutton Centre; not just students and staff but also local residents, as the plans for a new Academy will benefit everyone in the area.”

Roger Tanner, headteacher at Sutton Centre Community College, said: "It’s very important that everyone, as parents and carers, students, staff and members of the wider community, look closely at the proposals and takes part in the consultation.

“The proposals would be a major change for educational provision in Sutton and we need people’s views to be heard, to ensure that the final proposals offer the best possible educational opportunities for young people and adults.”