Two schools aim to join same academy trust

Simon Potten, head of Oakwood School
Simon Potten, head of Oakwood School

Two schools have ambitions to become members of the same academy trust.

Oakwood, in Horley, has applied to the Department for Education to join the University of Brighton Academies Trust, while Desmond Anderson Primary, in Tilgate, had its application to do the same approved in September.

This is not a vehicle for change. It’s very much a vehicle for progress.

Simon Potten, head of Oakwood School

Simon Potten, head of Oakwood, said he had spent the past year looking at various trusts before settling on the University of Brighton, which he described as “aspirational, forward-looking and ambitious”.

Explaining why school leaders had chosen to take the multi-academy trust route, he said: “The local authority has less and less capacity to provide school support, so it’s about schools working together.”

If its bid is successful, Oakwood hopes to open as an academy in September 2017, while Desmond Anderson’s leaders are aiming to open in February 2017.

Mr Potten said he hoped to hear from the Department for Education about the bid before Christmas.

He added: “The one thing I’ve always felt is important is you join a trust you trust, and they fit the bill. I’ve done a lot of research and I think they are the best fit for the students of Oakwood school.”

When asked how big a difference academy status would make to the way the school was run, Mr Potten said the trust had no “imposed model of working”, adding: “They let you carry on doing what you do well. This is not a vehicle for change. It’s very much a vehicle for progress.”

He highlighted the sharing of good practice as one major benefit of joining the University of Brighton Academies Trust, which already runs five schools in West Sussex, including Pound Hill Infants.

Teachers will be able to learn from and guide their peers across the trust, sharing successful ideas and best practice.

Over at Desmond Anderson, school governors have been consulting with parents, staff and members of the community about the conversion process, including holding a coffee morning on Friday (October 21).

A letter from the chairman, Clare Hoggan, said they had “considered many options and consulted at length before making our decision”, looking at sponsors who “matched our schools ethos and values”. She said: “With all this in mind we have concluded that the University of Brighton Academies Trust would provide the best support for us if we were to become an academy.”

Describing the choice as “by far the best for the children, staff and our amazing school community”, Mrs Hoggan added: “We will be in charge of our own destiny and will have the support we need and deserve to make sure our children receive the absolute best education.”

Anyone wishing to have their say about the process can complete the questionnaire at by Monday November 28.

Alternatively, there will be a consultation meeting at the school on Tuesday November 1 at 5.30pm.

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