Academy moves spark fears

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SERIOUS concerns have been expressed over moves by some Northumberland schools to become academies, with one veteran councillor describing the trend as having “massive implications” for education in the county.

Coun Robert Arckless spoke out at the authority’s Children Services Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, which he was chairing in Coun Richard Dodds’ absence.

It follows fears about the impact of plans for a Morpeth schools’ academy, involving King Edward VI (KEVI) High School, Chantry Middle School and Newminster Middle School and Technology College.

Both KEVI and Chantry are attended by pupils from Coquetdale and Longframlington, and questions have been asked about how those students will be affected by the change.

And in Alnwick, the Duchess’s Community High, Duke’s Middle, Lindisfarne Middle and Alnwick South First — the Aln Community Schools Federation — have a proposed conversion date of September this year.

A decision by the Secretary of State is awaited.

Coun Arckless said: “I think this has massive implications for educational services in Northumberland.

“While I welcome the fact that we’ve asked for regular updates on this situation, I honestly don’t think that the vast majority of members understand the implications.

“If we end up in a situation where funding drains away from the county, I really wonder what will happen to the schools which do not wish to become academies.”

Coun Paul Kelly added: “This is an ill-thought-out ideological battering ram, without any concern for the opinions of parents, residents and those people who belong to a community which, in my opinion, is going to be riven apart.

“It’s a recipe for selfishness, it’s going to be done on the cheap and a great deal of funding is going to come out of central resources of local authorities.

“Parents should be alarmed but I don’t think they understand the implications.

“This is a move to destroy local authority control of schooling.”