BEXHILL High officially became an Academy on Thursday November 1.
Executive Principal Mike Conn announced to staff during half-term: “I am pleased to advise you that we have received written confirmation from the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove that we may convert to Academy status and that, from today, we are part of the Prospects Academies Trust.
“I should like to thank you all for your patience and support during the application process and to celebrate, with you, the start of a new era as part of the new family of schools under the direction of Prospects Academies Trust.
“From now on we will be known as Bexhill High and we have every reason to be proud of our heritage and to be determined to become an outstanding school with the assistance of our new partners.”
Academies are independent, state-funded schools which receive their funding directly from central government rather than through a local authority. Bexhill High is no longer under the control of East Sussex County Council.
The school will have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, curriculum, length of terms and school days and do not need to follow national pay and conditions for teachers.
All schools - primary as well as secondary - have been invited to convert to Academy status, but priority is being given to those deemed by education watchdog Ofsted to be “outstanding” or “performing well”.
Bexhill High was judged to be ‘satsifactory’ when Ofsted last visited so it has to enter in a formal partnership with another good educational establishment, in this case Prospects Academies Trust.
The new policy is about spreading good practice from the best schools. Education Secretary Michael Gove says academies will drive up standards by putting more power in the hands of head teachers and cutting bureaucracy, and claims they have been shown to improve twice as fast as other state schools.
The Prospects Academies Trust is a not-for-profit charitable Trust formed by Prospects, specifically established to support the sponsorship of academies and free schools.
Prospects is one of the country’s leading providers of school improvement services. It is also the UK’s leading provider of careers information, advice and guidance, an Ofsted contractor for early years inspections and a major partner to the Department of Work and Pensions in assisting young people and adults into full-time education, employment or training.
As a team, it is committed to delivering excellence and ensuring a successful learning experience for all students. Its goal is to establish a Trust of primary, secondary and special academies and schools, known by others in the world of education as centres of excellence that challenges standards, encourage enquiry and feed off the latest academic research in developing our teachers.
Mr Conn said: “We are all so thrilled that Bexhill High is now an Academy and working in true partnership with Prospects. There is no doubt the past few years have been challenging, yet at the same time exciting.
‘We have a brand new £38million school in Gunters Lane and the facilities - and indeed the opportunities - for our students are second to none. But there is no doubt that bringing this transformational concept of education to Bexhill High brought with it a great deal of challenges.
“We are through those now and well on the way to moving from satisfactory in terms of how OFSTED view us, to become good and then outstanding. Now Prospects are with us, I am 100 percent confident that Bexhill High will continue on its road to improvement, but quicker.
“I believe this represents the best opportunity for our young people. That’s why the governing body decided to go down the Academy route. It’s the right route - I have no doubt about that.”