Struggling West Bromwich school in move to be academy

A struggling school in West Bromwich today announced plans to become an academy.

The Phoenix Collegiate, which was branded “inadequate” by Ofsted inspectors and given a notice to improve in March, wants to become an academy to get extra freedom and funding. Governors are actively looking for a sponsor to begin the conversion process.

It means out of 18 secondary schools in Sandwell, 12 are expected to be academies by April 2013.

Gary Hill, headteacher of the Clarke’s Lane school said: “It is no secret that our governors are looking at the possibility of converting to an academy. They have been considering a number of potential sponsors.”

He added: “The potential benefits of becoming an academy include being directly funded, greater freedom to acquire services and plan our own curriculum.”

He said he expected governors to identify a sponsor within a term, allowing the process to begin.

But staff and council bosses have expressed reservations, saying becoming an academy does not automatically equate to success.

One teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The staff and parents are nervously awaiting the outcome.”

Sandwell schools boss councillor Bob Badham said: “Becoming an academy does not mean overnight success. It needs good leaders, good teachers and a good learning environment.”

He added: “The more academies that crop up, the more this pot of Government money is diminishing. That they take extra money is very debatable.”

There has been a £1bn overspend in the Government’s academies programme nationally.