Blow for schools as academy firm pulls out of deals

Miltoncross School
Miltoncross School
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PLANS to turn two Portsmouth secondary schools into academies have hit a brick wall after sponsorship was withdrawn.

Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) has confirmed it is withdrawing its academy sponsorship of Miltoncross and Priory schools.

Both schools were expected to become AET academies later this year.

But it’s believed the trust has been asked by the Department for Education (DfE) to focus on raising results in its existing academies, rather than taking on more schools.

Councillor Rob Wood, cabinet member for children and education at Portsmouth City Council said: ‘We recognise this has not been an easy decision for AET and respect their judgement in withdrawing their sponsorship.

‘This decision is because of circumstances outside of the schools’ and the council’s control and not because of any local concerns or issues.

‘We are now talking to both schools and the Department for Education to agree the best way forward. We realise the schools, pupils and parents may be disappointed by this decision by AET.’

But Cllr Wood said Ofsted had praised both schools for their hard work in recent months.

‘Ofsted has recently confirmed that both schools are making significant improvements,’ he added.

‘We are determined that with strong leadership in both schools these improvements will continue, irrespective of academy status.’

Julian Wright, chairman of governors at Priory School, said: ‘Over the past couple of years a considerable amount of time and effort by all parties has been put into consultation and evaluating the best way ahead for Priory.

‘This surprise decision means that we will now need to re-evaluate our position and ensure our next step is one that will benefit the school for the long term.

‘On a positive note, through this work, the leadership and management of the school has gone from strength to strength, and this provides us with a great foundation to build on in our drive to become an outstanding school.’

Duncan Georgeson, chairman of governors at Miltoncross School said: ‘We have had significant support from AET while trying to become an AET academy and we are immensely frustrated by this decision, due to issues beyond our control. The governing body will consider the full implications of AET’s withdrawal and examine all available options to enable Miltoncross School to continue the improvement journey to becoming an outstanding school, offering students the best possible education.’