Academy Status

When he came into office the Secretary of State for Education introduced legislation concerning the establishment of new-style Academies, now known as Converter Academies.  A Converter Academy differs from the old style Sponsor Academy by not requiring financial support from a commercial, faith-based or other institution.  After legislation had been published the Secretary of State invited all schools, both primary and secondary, to investigate whether they would benefit from stepping away from being a maintained school under LA control to becoming an independent school as an Academy.

At a meeting of the full Governing Body on Thursday 10 February, it was decided to investigate the benefits or otherwise of GTS converting from Foundation to Academy status.  After completing a thorough investigation the case both for and against conversion was presented to the Governing Body and a meeting to decide the way ahead was held on Monday 4 July.  At that meeting it was decided, by a unanimous vote, to apply to the Secretary of State for Education for approval to convert to Academy Status.

We are pleased to announce that our application was approved on Friday 22 July 2011 and Great Torrington Community School converted from Foundation to Academy status – under the name of Great Torrington School - on 1 August 2011.

At this time the Governing Body would wish you to know that although an Academy enjoys greater freedom over admissions, we will not become a selective school.  Not only does the Governing Body not support this form of admission, legislation prevents us from introducing it; we wish to remain dedicated to providing a secondary education to all our community’s children, which of course includes those of our traditional feeder primary schools.  We will also remain an inclusive school and make every effort to meet the requirements of any pupil who chooses to attend GTS.  Similarly, we will maintain a broad and balanced curriculum in order to enable our pupils to reach their full potential. As an Academy we have the opportunity to set our own curriculum and so focus on the needs of the pupils in our rural community rather than following the indicative trend towards solely academic subjects.

Another significant aspect you should be aware of is that all schools in Devon are subject to an unfair funding scheme.  Out of 151 local education authorities in England, Devon ranks 145 in the funding table.  We are many hundreds of pounds per pupil below the national average which, in the main, favours inner-city schools.  DCC, along with all schools in Devon, is working hard in trying to amend this situation (see f40 Funding Group).  Although the DfE has indicated that the current position is currently being reviewed it is not known when a decision to achieve a more equitable balance in funding will actually be made.

The governing body is aware of the concerns you may have for the future of GTS.  Indeed, we are most conscious of our responsibility to both staff and pupils.  We want our pupils to receive an outstanding education and our staff be given the best possible opportunity to provide it.  We also want to assure parents/carers, and the community as a whole, that your best interests are uppermost in our considerations in taking GTS forward.  We wish to place ourselves in the best possible position to build on our educational achievements to date and, as the largest employer in town, continue to provide a secure employment base for both our teaching and support staff.