Northamptonshire County Council voted yesterday (TUES 11 MAY) to close Northampton’s Unity College.
The council’s cabinet agreed to close the school having heard that the council received no objections during the formal statutory period of representation.
The agreement to close the school is subject to government authorisation for the creation of an academy under the sponsorship of the David Ross Foundation.
Cabinet member for children and young people, Councillor Andrew Grant, said: “The driving force behind the proposal to secure academy status for Unity College is our complete commitment to raising standards in this school. The school’s performance issues have been well documented and clearly too many of its students are leaving school without an acceptable standard of education.
“We believe that the proposal to close Unity College in its current form and re-open as an academy led by the David Ross Foundation will result in far-reaching and sustainable improvement.
“While we pay tribute to the good work undertaken by the school community and the interim executive board in maintaining a steady course for the school, I hope and believe that with a new academy the students will flourish and be helped to reach their full potential.”
The David Ross Foundation has proposed that the new academy would specialise in mathematics and music. In addition to these specialist subjects, the academy would offer students a broad and balanced academic and vocational curriculum.
David Ross, chairman of the foundation, said: “Closing a school is never an easy decision, however we believe it is in the best interests of students, staff, parents and the wider community to open a new academy that will offer a world class education which we can all be proud of and which offers young people the best opportunities in life.”
Unity College is currently in special measures and operating under the management of an Interim Executive Board.
In April 2009, the cabinet of Northamptonshire County Council halted the original academy proposals because of a lack of support among staff, parents and the wider community for the sponsorship arrangements, a consortium made up of the county council, the Diocese of Peterborough, Bishop Stopford School and Moulton College.
The cabinet decided to continue to pursue academy status but with a different sponsor. As part of the selection process, Northamptonshire County Council asked each of the potential sponsors to give a presentation at the school and set up information stands so the school community could play an active role in choosing the most suitable sponsor. The council selected the David Ross Foundation as its preferred sponsor.
In addition to starting the selection process, an interim executive board was put in place to support the school and press ahead with improving pupil attainment, progress and overall school standards.
Academies have the freedom to work differently to other state schools and are run by a sponsor organisation which makes decisions about the vision, ethos, structure and curriculum of the academy. They are free of charge to students, open to students of all abilities and are accountable to central government for their standards.
The sponsor is responsible for the governance and management of the academy. Sponsors do not make any profit from running academies.