Partnership plans to take on high schools

By Richard Wright

Friday, June 26, 2009


A POWERFUL partnership linking education with industry has unveiled its ambitious bid for all the schools put out to competition by the Isle of Wight Council.

It argues that if it gains control of the seven schools and wins academy status for them it will replace an Island education postcode lottery with a network working together to drive up flagging standards.

The partnership includes the Isle of Wight College, the Portsmouth Church of England diocese, Ryde School, the UK Sailing Academy, Vestas Technology, the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and Industry, the IW Primary Care Trust and Carisbrooke, Cowes, Medina and Sandown high schools.

The group invited Essex-based Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) to be lead partner.

It is the operational arm of the Greensward Charitable Trust, set up by the former Greensward College in south Essex, a school rated as outstanding by Ofsted in May 2008.

The partnership says Greensward has a proven record of working with challenging schools across the country since 2002, many at the request of the Department of Children, Schools and Families.

Academy status would provide bigger resources to spend in the classroom, greater curriculum flexibility and better pay to attract higher calibre teachers to the Island, said the partnership.

AET would be responsible to the government for standards at each school. Those schools would each have their own headteacher and governing body responsible for day-to-day management.

Partnership member, Cowes High chairman of governors Hamish Wilson, said: "Competition implies winners and losers. In education 'losing’, or failing schools are totally unacceptable. There-fore we felt we had to have a system which places excellence for all Island children at its heart. This can only be achieved by working together and making our best better."

Rob Sauven, managing director of Vestas Techno-logies UK, said: "I first got involved with secondary school education through the Cowes Pathfinder Initiative."

"I, and others, realised the competitive environment between secondary schools was preventing co-operation and reducing standards rather than providing choice. We soon found many others in education agreed with us." said Mr Sauven.

"I have been amazed and heartened to see how much alignment there is between all those involved. Vestas will support this bid as we want to help drive education standards and support sustainable thinking in education."

European groups may be among offers

NO DETAIL of bids or bidders to take over Island schools is yet being released by the Isle of Wight Council.

While the majority are believed to be from mainland organisations and some from Europe, the council would only say it had received a total of 16.

Isle of Wight Council assistant director for children and young people, Keith Simmonds, said: "The competition for the running of the five new secondary schools and two new primary schools has now closed.

"Those who have made the proposals which meet the requirements of the competition will be invited to present their bids at public meetings.

"These will be held from July 13 to 17 and July 20 to 21.

"There will then be a period for written representations before a final cabinet decision on award of contracts at the end of September or early October."

The Isle of Wight Council is seeking bids for Carisbrooke, Cowes, Fairlee, Ryde and Sandown secondary schools and for the East Cowes-Whippingham and Chillerton, Godshill

and Rookley primary amalgamations, as it presses ahead with moving to two-tier education.


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