Monday, 15 June 2015

Update on Haydon Bridge High School

As many of you will be aware Haydon Bridge High School is currently in special measures having been rated as inadequate by Ofsted.

The school was visited by Ofsted inspectors in December last year and was found to be inadequate in leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching, and achievement of pupils. Ofsted found its sixth form provision “requires improvement.”

I met the County Council's top education bosses last week to discuss the situation and see how best we can make progress for the pupils of Haydon Bridge High School.

Essentially if a school does not improve quickly then a Local Authority has two options; either to close the school or convert it into an academy, effectively releasing it from their control to an Academy sponsor.

It is my view that converting Haydon Bridge into Academy would be the best solution.

Academies were originally a Labour policy designed to improve struggling schools, but now there are many academies across the country providing a fantastic level of education.

Academies have more freedom than other state schools, giving the Head teacher more powers over their finances, curriculum, length of terms and school days.

I myself have visited some fantastic Academy schools across the North East and have always been impressed by the improvements a strong and determined Headteacher is able to make.

Fundamentally academies take power away from politicians and bureaucrats and hand it to the heads and teachers who know their pupils best.

There is no question that the Education system in Northumberland is suffering from deep problems which have been a long time coming. In our area there are a number of schools which Ofsted has raised concered about and Northumberland County Council was ranked 132nd out of 151 local authorities for GCSE and A-Level performance in 2013. Reportedly Northumberland County Council has been put 146th of 147 for rate of improvement. That is simply not good enough.

The research very clearly shows that previously failing schools are more in demand since becoming academies and the vast majority of academy heads feel their results have improved overall.

The main reasons schools choose to convert is to raise educational standards and to gain greater freedom to spend their budgets on improving standards. All funding for academies goes directly to Headteachers to spend directly on education.

Education bosses from the County are meeting with Department of Education officals this week to discuss possible Academy sponsors. 

I will continue to keep you updated over the coming weeks.