New Academy would be 'once in a lifetime opportunity'

A SLEAFORD headteacher says a multi-million pound scheme to merge three schools into a new Academy is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the area which will benefit the whole community.

As part of the scheme, Coteland's Community School in Ruskington, the Aveland High School in Billingborough and St George's College of Technology in Sleaford would form a new Academy under one name, based on their existing sites.

Principal of all three schools, Paul Watson, said the project would see 'world-leading education provision for the Sleaford area' and an investment of up to 40million.

He said: "I cannot see another way of Sleaford attracting that amount of money for the foreseeable future.

"Sleaford offers a great education but we can have a better one. The future is having the whole area working towards one set of targets, not school against school, but for the benefit of everyone."

Mr Watson said the Aveland and Coteland's schools were receiving government support to raise GCSE pass rates to nationally set standards and so their progress needed to be faster, requiring facilities to allow all children access to a wider curriculum. The project would see a brand new school on the Aveland site.

Government funding would pay for the Academy and a feasibility study will be carried out by consultants regarding future accommodation to be provided.

A report to Lincolnshire County Council executive on March 3 will ask for a technical closure of all three schools at the end of the summer to enable the new Academy to open on September 1. Initially it will mean all three schools and their 2,500 pupils being run as one, without any other physical changes.

If approved, informal consultation with staff, parents, governors and the whole community would start from March 3 for four weeks.

Mr Watson said: "We shall not get a chance like this again and if we fail it will not be for want of trying – everyone has to be on board or it cannot move forward.

"The idea is to get a brand new configuration for education in the area and move away from everything in the past, taking a fresh look at the whole provision and thinking again what is the very best for Sleaford area. That is really exciting."

*What do you think of the idea to create an Academy? Email your views to andy.hubbert@jpress.co.uk