Girls' High took academy route to bypass 'super-chain'

15th April 2011 at 01:00

A high-performing girls' school in West Yorkshire has successfully applied to become an academy to avoid being replaced by a mixed-sex school run by an academy chain.

Batley Girls' High School, which is rated "good with outstanding features" by Ofsted, has been given the go-ahead by the Department for Education to convert to academy status to sidestep being relocated to a smaller, shared site or being merged to become a co-educational academy.

Kirklees Council had been in talks with the DfE over plans to establish a new academy sponsored by not for-profit charity E-Act.

Last month The TES reported that E-Act, which runs 11 academies, was in discussions with the DfE to open a "super-chain" of up to 250 state schools within the next five years.

But education secretary Michael Gove has thrown out the council's plans and ruled in favour of Batley Girls', which will allow the school to remain on the site it has occupied for the last 30 years.

According to Batley Girls' deputy head Ray Henshaw, more than 7,000 parents signed a petition to keep the school on its current site.

In a statement, Mr Henshaw said: "The campaign to save the school reached Michael Gove himself and drew together all of the key stakeholders in the school to oppose the council's proposal to move the girls' school to a co- located site at the nearby boys' school, Batley Business and Enterprise College."

Mr Henshaw added that more than 1,000 parents attended a school meeting in a bid to oppose the plans, which would have resulted in 500 school places being lost.

The school now expects to convert to academy status by August, before pupils return to school in September.

Councillor Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Council, said: "The council welcomes the ongoing dialogue with Government around aspects of education in Kirklees, and we are looking forward to further discussions in the future around all school proposals for the area."

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