Change could be beneficial to schools in Portsmouth

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Headteacher Niel McLeod advances a persuasive argument when he makes the case for his school undergoing a radical transformation.

Miltoncross in Portsmouth, where he is in charge, is making good strides since its difficult first few years.

Now Mr McLeod sees a move to academy status as the natural next step.

And he’s not alone in that thinking. The heads of most of Portsmouth’s senior schools are also seriously considering whether their establishments would be better following the lead of what was St Luke’s School in moving to academy status.

Even initial doubters such as Mike Smith, head of the City of Portsmouth Boys’ School and chairman of the Portsmouth Secondary Headteachers, are beginning to see the transition in a different light.

Some are looking at merging with their primary feeder schools to create all-through academies for reception to sixth form pupils.

All of this, say proponents, accords with the government’s plans to channel funds directly to schools rather than through local councils.

That poses a major question mark on the traditional role of councils in the provision and administration of education.

Of course, it is vital that any sea change in the way our schools are run is not at the expense of standards.

But the mark will still be set by government, and checked by Ofsted inspectors, so we should not fear that a school going its own way would be devoid of a proper and necessary overview.

We should also trust highly-paid headteachers as being able to meet targets and performance levels without aid from another highly-paid official at the town hall.

We’re glad to see heads discussing these matters together. We hope too that parents are fully engaged in the decision-making process at any school moving towards academy status.

It is the futures of their children that is by far the most important consideration in this current debate about whether Portsmouth’s schools are transformed.