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Norwich Diocese Trust takes on first academy

DNEAT450The Diocese of Norwich has set up a new Education and Academies Trust, taken on its first academy school, and is looking to add further schools, including the Open Academy in Norwich. Keith Morris reports.

The Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT) has been established to enable schools in the area covered by the Diocese of Norwich to become academies and Moorlands Primary School in Belton near Great Yarmouth became the first DNEAT academy on November 1.
And now the Open Academy at Heartsease in Norwich is set to join after the decision by one its the original sponsors, entrepreneur and philanthropist Graham Dacre, to step down so the Academy could join the new Trust.
Chair of governors Fred Corbett, who is also chairman of DNEAT, said: “Mr Dacre proposed at the last trust meeting in the summer that he would step aside as a sponsor and trustee and that the academy should be run by the new trust established around the energy and expertise the Bishop of Norwich can harness through the Norwich Diocese.
“The Secretary of State has agreed in principle to the proposed change. A requirement of the change is that we consult widely with staff, parents and the community and responses have been positive. The next stage is to work up the legal transfer and financial arrangements and then the Secretary of State will make the final order for the change. We anticipate that the changed arrangements will start from February 1, 2014.
“Open has become a popular school, numbers have grown by almost 40% in the last few years despite there being fewer secondary pupils in Norwich and we are delighted with the progress the students and staff have made. Now is the time to consolidate that progress; it will be an exciting New Year.”
FredCorbett240Mr Corbett (pictured right) said the school would keep its name, religious character, uniform and the conditions of service of staff, and the senior leadership team, including principal Jon Platten, would remain.
“Open Academy, as a school with a strong Christian ethos has voted to become part of DNEAT and we feel that this will open the door to other non-church schools who share the same values to join in the future.
“We are attracting mainly Church of England schools but have had several enquiries from non-church schools. The Trust is open to schools that are working effectively as well as some schools that have run into difficulty as a result of their inspection by Ofsted,” said Mr Corbett.
“We are in active discussions with other schools that we expect will join the Trust this year. There may well be many more to follow including a number of Diocesan schools if and when they feel the time is right.
“The Bishop, both personally and his office, is held in very high regard by ministers and DfE officials. They want the continuity of the Bishop’s office to be part of the new arrangements and like what the Bishop has encouraged through the setting up of a Trust with a strong focus on school improvement. There is a strong sense in central government that this approach is a good one for schools. “

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