Gosport school told ‘find academy sponsor before Christmas’

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A SCHOOL in Gosport has been forced to seek an academy sponsor before the new year – or risk being paired up with a sponsor of the government’s choosing.

Governors at Bridgemary School are just weeks away from announcing a preferred sponsor, after they were told by Hampshire County Council to act fast.

The News understands Bridgemary is one of five secondaries in Hampshire either failing to hit government-set exam targets or with a poor Ofsted rating that have been told to find an academy sponsor by Christmas.

Richard Carlyle, appointed head 18 months ago, said: ‘The local authority is saying in January the secretary of state will have the power to convert schools into academies whether or not their governing bodies want to.

‘We now have a window of opportunity to be a self-determining academy convertor and to do this on our own terms rather than be forced down a route that would not suit the school or its students.

‘We’ve done a lot of research on the academy providers and the school’s governors have set out principles by which they want to move forward.

‘They want a sponsor that has the best interests of the children at heart – which is not the case for all of them.

‘We don’t want a highly interventionist sponsor with a blueprint for things like the curriculum and uniform. We are determined to retain our autonomy and our identity.’ a

This year 31 per cent of year 11s at Bridgemary achieved five A* to C GCSEs including English and maths – below the government benchmark of 35 per cent.

Mr Carlyle admitted maths results were disappointing, with just 34 per cent achieving good pass rates, but said the department was now in good hands following the appointment of two new maths teachers and a head of maths.

He added: ‘I believe we could have done this on our own, but we are making the best of the situation.’

Cllr Roy Perry, Hampshire’s education chief, said: ‘We are obliged by the government to enter into a conversation with a school which is consistently below the 35 per cent floor target. But any decision to go down the academy route is a question for the individual school and its governors.’