Schools propose major shake-up

Head teacher Colin Dean of Robert Smyth Academy in Market Harborough
Head teacher Colin Dean of Robert Smyth Academy in Market Harborough

Governors from the two main Harborough schools are proposing significant changes to the structure of education in the town.

In a joint letter to parents on Friday, the headteachers and chairmen of governors from Robert Smyth Academy and Welland Park Academy said they want to change the age ranges offered by both schools.

They are considering changing age ranges of both academies simultaneously so that Welland Park would change from 11 –14 to 11–16, while Robert Smyth would switch from 14–19 to 11–19.

The aim would be to make the changes to start from September 2016.

In November 2012 the two schools agreed to investigate the possibility of a merger to form one 11 to 19 school on a split site.

But during its investigations they discovered the proposal would be financially disadvantageous for both schools to the tune of about £150,000 a year.

Then in May last year, after an extensive consultation, the schools proposed a Multi–Academy Trust to unite them.

This would have involved a slightly different structure and see the two academies working under the control of a single academy trust with combined governance, but without the financial penalty.

Since then, however, a number of significant developments for secondary education in the Harborough area and throughout the county have come to light, such as alterations to catchment areas as a consequence of proposed new admissions policies at other local schools and projected housing growth.

Kibworth High School is one such school planning to change admissions and wants to convert to an 11-16 school.

In the letter, headteachers Colin Dean and Julie McBrearty say: “Governors of both academies feel the time is right to consider a significant reorganisation of secondary education in Harborough with an eye to the future.”

The total pupils in each academy would initially be similar to the current levels with a shared catchment area.

The letter adds: “This will lead to a further improvement of standards through Key Stages 3-5 and increased choice for students and parents for Key Stages 3 and 4.”

A final decision will be subject to the approval of education secretary Michael Gove.