Protest over infant school plan to be an academy

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SUS-150416-121721001

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Parents and teachers have protested against an ‘Outstanding’ infant school becoming an academy.

Parents in Pound Hill Infant School’s catchment area, teachers and a National Union of Teachers representative gathered outside the school on Wednesday (April 15).

The group, which did not include any teachers from the school, feared it would cap its pupil places or become more selective if it left local authority control to join The University of Brighton’s Academies Trust.

Seren Collins, a former teacher who works for the National Union of Teachers, said: “If Pound Hill were able to cap their class sizes then the local authority would have to put their children in other schools - the load would not spread as easily.”

She said Crawley was worst hit by a ‘swell in infant school class sizes’ in West Sussex.

Emma Newham, 40, of Spring Platt, Pound Hill, feared her son would not be able to join the school if it changed its admissions policy. She said: “We need to keep schools in the local authority so it can reflect the local community and local children.”

Headteacher Julie Knock-Bravery said the school had no plans to change its admissions criteria. The governing body was to announce its decision on joining the trust in two weeks. It would take over the running of the school in September and be directly funded by central government.

She added: “We are committed to be a community school. We are only working to the best interests for our children and families [within our local area and Crawley].”

Liz Davis, school chairman of governors, said the conversion was ‘definitely’ the right option at a meeting on March 19.

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said it had no concerns over the school’s pupil places or admission policy.

She said: “The school could seek to consult on changing its future admission arrangements in line with the requirements in the school admission code.

“If it did so the county council and other interested parties could respond to the consultation and those views would need to be taken into account. The only financial impact is that our funds will be reduced by the Education Support Grant of £87 per pupil. The ESG funds responsibilities that academies take on as a result of conversion e.g. education welfare, school improvement, employer etc.

“The conversion does not affect funding for other schools because the Dedicated Schools Grant includes funding for all academies, free schools and maintained schools.”

The funding is distributed to the schools through a standard funding formula.