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Local schools join forces to run their own affairs

THE way schools are run in Melksham looks set to change as a new Multi-Academy Trust is being set up that will see many local schools become academies.

Melksham Oak, Bowerhill, Seend, Shaw, St. George’s Semington, St Mary’s Broughton Gifford and The Manor Primary School are all looking to join an Academy Trust of Melksham (ATOM) which will give them a greater say over the running of their own schools.

The new set-up as an academy means that the schools will no longer be controlled by the local authority and will have independence across a wide range of areas, although they will still be publically funded.

Melksham Oak Community School has confirmed that it is actively pursuing a conversion to an academy by April. The move will see them join an Academy Trust of Melksham (ATOM) along with most of the primary schools in the area.

All academies are expected to follow a broad and balanced curriculum but many have a particular focus on, or formal specialism in, one or more subject areas. Although academies are required to follow the National Curriculum in the core subjects of maths, English and science, they are otherwise free to innovate, although they still participate in the same Key Stage 3 and GCSE exams as other English schools.

As an academy the schools together will form a multi-academy trust. A single academy board will be formed to provide a strategic leadership and oversight of all the schools in the trust. Each school will retain a local governing body which will operate in much the same way it does now. The composition of the new multi-academy trust board will be decided upon by a steering group which is made up of representatives of each school.

Headteacher Stephen Clark at Melksham Oak said, “Firstly, becoming an academy would allow us to strengthen cohesion between all seven schools in order to support continuity of education within the Melksham community.

“Secondly, there would be greater flexibility in how we spend our funding. At present our funds are allocated in a particular way.

“Finally, academies are becoming a reality across the country and many of our neighbouring schools have either recently converted or are in the process. Many of the traditional services provided by the local authority are being withdrawn as financial pressures increase and this is only likely to worsen.

“In the years ahead, the education system faces a significant number of changes which may be of concern. These will affect us whether we become an academy or not. However, the Academy Trust of Melksham (ATOM) Schools believe that we will manage change well, and that, in joining together as a multi-academy, we will be able to strengthen our ability to meet future challenges with a single stronger voice.”

A consultation period will now run until 27th February where parents, staff, students, unions and the local community will have a chance to have their say.

Any comments on the proposal an be emailed to ATOMfeedback@yahoo.co.uk or write to any of the school’s Chair of Governors.