Academy sponsorship: high school pulls out

W04342H14-NorthbrookTraffic''GV of Traffic on Broadwater Road outside Northbrook College in Broadwater. Worthing. ENGSUS00120140128171738
W04342H14-NorthbrookTraffic''GV of Traffic on Broadwater Road outside Northbrook College in Broadwater. Worthing. ENGSUS00120140128171738

THE head teacher of Durrington High School has defended the decision to pull out of the new secondary academy in Worthing.

Sue Marooney spoke on behalf on the Durrington Multi Academy Trust on Thursday, June 12, when the decision was announced.

She said: “As a responsible trust with a clear educational vision, we have carefully looked at the proposal in Worthing to deliver a new secondary school. “We have thoroughly investigated and considered all aspects and options. Our concerns about the site being unsuitable to deliver our vision remain.

“This regrettably leaves us with no option but to withdraw from sponsoring the new secondary academy in Worthing.

“As a trust, we remain committed to our community and to providing excellence in education and will continue to work in partnership with all parties.”

The news follows concerns raised by Ms Marooney regarding the budget for the new school, the site and an unrealistic opening time.

Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We are disappointed at the news but are fully committed to this new school opening and are confident that the Department for Education will be able to find another excellent sponsor.

“We are grateful that this decision has been made promptly to allow a new sponsor as much time as possible to engage with parents and plan a successful school for the future.”

The Department for Education can now proceed to identify a new sponsor for the school, which is due to open in September, 2015.

The county council and the Department for Education have both confirmed the new school is achievable within the allocated budget on the identified site – land currently owned by Northbrook College in Broadwater.

The budget of £12.4 million, which has been calculated by central government, needs to be spent by September, 2015.

A county counci spokes-
man said: “We can assure parents that a change of sponsor does not at this stage affect the planning, design and build programme for the new academy, as much of the detailed work has already taken place.

“We are aware that DfE officials are already in touch with potential new sponsors.

“As it is the Secretary of State who approves any new sponsor, we have written to the DfE Minister responsible to ask that the process of identifying and agreeing a new sponsor is undertaken as quickly and as rigorously as possible.

“We are currently in the final stages of agreeing the transfer of the site from Northbrook College. Both the college and the county council are absolutely committed to this transfer of land.

“The planning application has already been submitted by the contractor and we expect the project to go before the planning committee on September 2.

“In the meantime, various ‘enabling works’ will take place over the coming months to prepare the site.

“The contractor is confident that the building will be completed by September, 2015, and the new sponsor would still have the opportunity to comment on important features of internal design.”