Norwich academy plan faces council setback
Norwich City councillors look set to publicly reject controversial proposals to turn Heartsease High School into an academy.
Norwich City Council's scrutiny committee held a debate attended by parties both for and against the proposals and has concluded the council should reject the plans.
The plans would see the current school turned into a Christian academy school thanks to millions of pounds from the Government and £2m in private investment from millionaire businessman Graham Dacre in conjunction with the Bishop of Norwich (pictured right).
But critics fear how much influence the private sponsors would have on the ethos of the school and the scrutiny committee's specific concerns included the effect on schools nearby, the lack of
accountability and the sponsor's amount of control over the future of the school.
They are recommending the council rejects the plans at a special meeting on Wednesday.
Steve Morphew, Labour leader of Norwich City Council, said: “Going through the scrutiny committee gave councillors the chance to speak to the witnesses. Because we are aiming to become a unitary council, which would take over education, this is fundamental to our policies, so I am pleased our committee has been examining this issue and their findings give us a really good basis for debate.
“What we have got to turn our minds to is how we improve educational failings in the city and prepare future generations to realise their potential.
“I think there are still unanswered questions about academies and specific concerns in the case of Heartsease. Despite my doubts about academies, we would need to consider each project on its own merits. I am not a great fan of them, but I would not want to rule them out.”
Commenting on the scrutiny committee's decision, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said: “Both Graham Dacre and I are naturally very disappointed that Norwich City Council does not see a proposed academy at Heartsease as the appropriate option for the community.
“If this project does not go ahead it will not be just a loss to the pupils and the community but a great loss to Norwich.”
A public consultation on behalf of the sponsors and the government began in May with questionnaires sent to 30,000 people living in the school's catchment area and its feeder schools. This will continue until August 20.
Article courtesy of www.eveningnews24.co.uk
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