Steyning Grammar School completes switch to academy after divisive process

Steyning Grammar School has finally completed the transition into an academy following a long and divisive process.

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 3:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 3:55 pm

Effective yesterday (December 1), the school has become part of Bohunt Education Trust (BET) but will retain its current co-head teachers Nat Nicol and Noel Kennedy, with support from interim executive head teacher Mark Marande.

It will also retain its Church of England ethos even as an academy.

Co-Headteacher Nat Nicol, said: “We are committed to ensuring that every one of our students at SGS has the opportunity to reach academic excellence, and to experience activities that will shape them as young people, setting them on their path to adulthood.

DM1912625a.jpg. Church Street, Steyning. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-190126-232211008

“The educational philosophy championed by BET is completely aligned with SGS’, and we look forward to sharing resources, opportunities, and best practice expertise. By joining BET, SGS will provide an even greater range of first-class opportunities for our amazing students, while retaining the special identity and unique personality of our wonderful school.”

The school’s sixth form is also set to complete its move to The Towers former convent in Upper Beeding and Year 7 and 8 students from Church Street will be moving to the Shooting Field campus.

According to the school, there are no plans to change the length of the school day, logo or uniform.

Bohunt Education Trust now runs eight secondary schools, alongside its sixth form in Liphook.

The switch to an academy has been challenged by parents, teachers and the National Education Union (NEU) since it was first suggested.

Detractors claimed a proper consultation process did not take place and that moving to an academy was sold as a ‘done deal’ from the offset.

There were also concerns around the quality of teaching at trusts, as they are not bound by the same employment regulations as local authority schools, and fears that should the trust collapse financially – although there was no indication that is in any way imminent – it would take Steyning Grammar School with it.

There were calls for the academisation to be delayed as the coronavirus lockdown had stymied any group meetings and meaningful discussion, and indeed the process was delayed, but this was revealed to be due to issues over switching of payroll information.

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