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Schools given green light to press ahead with academy merger

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Education | Published:

Four schools will be combined in a multi-academy trust after a council backed the plans.

HLC School in Hadley

Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet has approved measures which will see Hadley Learning Community form a multi-academy trust, absorbing Mount Gilbert School, Queensway School, and Charlton Secondary School.

It agreed to delegate powers to the assistant director for education and corporate parenting to facilitate the move.

Under the agreement Telford & Wrekin Council will retain The Bridge Special School, the leisure facilities, and the ABC private nursery and children's centres on a 125 year lease.

Because Hadley Learning Community was funded by a private finance initiative (PFI), the council agreed the need to ensure that following the transfer agreement the school continues to pay "the appropriate annual sum due form its budget towards PFI costs".

The council paper said that it "needs to ensure that no additional liabilities arise in relation to the contract as a result of the specific legal agreements put in place with the academy".

The responsibility for the PFI contract remains with the council and is a long-term commitment which lasts until 2034/35.

If the process goes ahead as expected the school will become an academy for September 1.

Councillor Paul Watling said the move reflected the success of the school.

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He said: "It really is positive to see local schools working together across boundaries. We know the difficulties there have been for some schools and it is good to see a multi academy trust which is one local successful school helping another local successful school.

"It is an example of where we have had some very successful practice and it is good that the Department for Education approached the school to do it."

Councillors said more work would be needed to discuss the future of the leisure facilities on the site following the conclusion of the PFI contract.

The report stated: "Further discussions will be needed to consider the future control and operation of the leisure facilities at the end of the PFI contract and the best way to secure long-term availability of the leisure facilities for the community."

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Information about the plans provided to parents by the Charlton School says: "The Department of Education strongly supported a proposal and has approved that a multi-academies trust is established in this part of Telford, where schools are located close together and where school-to-school support is already in place.

"The new MAT will be the Learning Community Trust (LCT).

"Following HLC's application to be an academy and sponsor, LCT is now being established. Charlton School and Mount Gilbert have academy orders in place to be sponsored by LCT and these changes can come into place from September 1 2017."

It adds that the move will provide "great opportunities" for both students and staff.

It stated: "By being part of the Learning Community Trust from the outset we can have influence on our own destiny – the local authority is unable to support schools as it used to due to constant and significant budget cuts."

Each school will operate independently under a shared Learning Community Trust board, with each head teacher having responsibility for their school, under HLC principal Dr Gill Eatough, who will be executive principal of the HLC and the trust.

The HLC, on Waterloo Road in Hadley, is an all-through school for children from the ages of five to 16.

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