17. What steps he has taken to offer guidance to the parents, pupils, governors and teachers of (a) Wilbarston Church of England primary school in Kettering constituency and (b) other schools in England on becoming an academy. (96399)
Although Wilbarston Church of England primary school may be interested in becoming an academy, as of Friday no formal application had been received. If and when such an application is made, the Department will provide the school with a named contact to help it through the process. That applies to all schools in England which apply to become academies.
Mrs Andrea Cruse, the head teacher of Wilbarston primary school, and Mr Lawrence Dale, the chair of the governors, have requested me to ask the following supplementary question: “What advantages are there for a small, successful primary school which has always enjoyed a productive and beneficial relationship with the local authority in severing those ties to become an academy?”
There is no need for the severing of any ties with local authorities, and that school is free to continue its good relationship with its local authority. The key advantage of becoming an academy is the professional autonomy that comes with academy status, which is valued by heads and teachers alike. They are free to innovate, and they have control over the element of their budget that is currently spent on their behalf by the local authority.