Pressure is on for academy status

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A failing school - that had shown signs of improvement - has reluctantly agreed to look at becoming an Academy after facing pressure from the Department for Education (DfE).

Robert Bruce Middle School in Kempston, which was last year graded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors but showed signs of improvement at a recent monitoring inspection, is being ‘forced’ into taking Academy status.

However, the school has now agreed to look at the possibility of becoming a ‘sponsored Academy’ following a recent governors’ meeting.

Headteacher Karen D’Angelo said: “Young People are at the heart of our community. Educational standards are improving in the school and will continue to do so.

“We believe – as noted in the latest, positive Ofsted monitoring report – that the best option for the school would be for us to continue to be part of the local authority, and to continue to have the most direct access to their support and help of the excellent school improvement team.

“Sadly, we must also be prepared to deal with the actions of the Department for Education and we have to be ready to take the action that we believe will result in the best outcome for the children and young people for whom we are responsible.”

The issue was due to be discussed at a full council meeting of Bedford Borough last night (Wednesday) where Labour councillors accused the DfE of threatening to sack the school’s management staff if Academy status was not taken.

Councillor Henry Vann, portfolio holder for education at the borough, said: “Any attempt to force this school to become an Academy would be an absolute travesty and not in the best interests of the children of Bedford borough.”

A DfE spokesman said becoming an Academy will improve the school.

They said: “The school has received poor Ofsted ratings for at least ten years and was rated inadequate in both 2010 and 2013. It’s Key Stage 2 results have also been below the national floor standards for at least four of the last five years.”