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Academy option


The Dukeries College, Ollerton, could be rebuilt and turned into an academy school as part of a £150m scheme to transform secondary education in Newark and north Nottinghamshire.

The idea has been discussed by education officers at the county council and the school’s management team.

Although 46% of pupils who took GCSEs at the school last summer left with at least five A*-C grades, the figure drops to 24% when English and maths are included.

That means the school does not reach the Government’s 30% minimum which all schools must achieve by 2012 or face closure, federation, or being turned into an academy.

The government wants to create 200 academy schools by 2010.

It involves a private sector sponsor, such as a business, faith or voluntary group, providing around £2m in set up costs.

It then has a major say in the running of the school.

The rest of the cost, £20m-£25m, would be met from the Building Schools for the Future scheme.

The government pays the school’s running costs.

The school would be directly answerable to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Mr Ed Balls, in terms of performance, rather than the council as the local education authority.

Speaking at County Hall on Tuesday, the council’s director for children and young people’s services, Mr John Slater, said there was a government requirement for some county schools to become academies.

Mr Slater said all schools that became academies must be rebuilt.

He said the school could still be rebuilt, or partly rebuilt and refurbished, even if it did not become an academy.

He said they would have to consider what happened to other parts of the college complex, which includes stables, a farm, and a community workshop.

Mr Slater said a £1.6m construction centre built last year would remain.

The principal, Mr Danny Smith, said: “It is very early days but if one of the options is to go down the academy route, then I am happy to explore that.

“We need to investigate how much flexibility there is, and how we could use academy status to preserve and develop the community provision.

“Building Schools for the Future is a tremendous opportunity.”

The chairman of the governors, Mrs Stella Smedley, said the Dukeries College was one of the first clasp-style schools to be built in the county in the early 1970s.

“We need new school buildings, there is no doubt about that,” she said.

“We will look to get the best deal possible out of this.

“It is a fantastic scheme but it has to be the best out of a range of options for Ollerton.”

The decision on academy status lies with the county council’s cabinet member for children and young people, Mrs Joyce Bosnjak, in consultation with senior officers.

The proposals will then be ratified by the council. Proposals are expected in the next four weeks.

The other schools sharing the £150m are the Grove School, Balderton, the Magnus Church of England School and The Orchard School in Newark, Joseph Whitaker School, Rainworth, Meden School and Technology College, Warsop, and Garibaldi School, Forest Town.

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