Opposition mounting to academy bid

PROPOSALS to turn one of North Tyneside’s schools into an academy came in for criticism at a public meeting last week.

And the decision-makers behind the move have been accused of focusing on the finances of the North Shields school rather than the education of its pupils.

At the meeting, organised by the Northern Public Service Alliance to rally opposition to St Thomas More RC High School’s proposed bid for academy status, concerns were raised that the education of children could suffer.

A postcard campaign was also unveiled to try to dissuade the school from going ahead with the proposals.

Parents and other concerned about the potential application are being encouraged to send postcards to the Lynn Road school’s headteacher, Diane Donkin, registering their opposition.

Joe Waddle, divisional secretary for the National Union of Teachers in North Tyneside, said: “My main concern is education, but I will say that our position in regard to academies is that we oppose them on the grounds that they break up the local education authority.

“There is no good reason we can see for St Thomas More High wanting to become an academy.

“Their results have been high over the last few years. They are a high-performing school. The drive to become an academy is lost on us.”

Fears were also voiced that the creation of North Tyneside’s first academy, possibly paving the way for others to follow, would mean less money for the remaining state schools in the borough.

Muriel Green, district councillor for the Weetslade ward, said: “This borough has always worked in collaboration with all of the schools, whatever their status, and the build-up of schools is one of our strengths.

“St Thomas More High is part of that collaboration, and why it wants to go along in that way I just don’t understand.”

It was claimed that there is ill-feeling among the school’s staff about what the transition would mean for them, but not enough to prompt industrial action.

Plans were agreed to distribute leaflets in opposition to the academy status bid and to lobby other organisations about the move.

The school, celebrating notching up its best-ever GCSE results last month, has the support, in principle, of the diocese for the switch-over.

Parents and carers had until today to ask questions or make comments about the proposals.

The school declined to comment on criticism of its academy status bid.